Okon-Singer Hadas, Aue Tatjana (2017), Neurocognitive mechanisms modulating attention bias in anxiety: Current perspectives, in Biological Psychology
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Aue Tatjana, Okon-SingerHadas (2016), Determinants and associations of threat-related cognitive biases: Cognitive and neurophysiological perspectives, in Biological Psychology
, 121, 125-127.
Aue Tatjana, Chauvigné Léa A. S., Bristle Mirko, Okon-Singer Hadas, Guex Raphaël (2016), Expectancy influences on attention to threat are only weak and transient: Behavioral and physiological evidence, in Biological Psychology
, 121, 173-186.
Aue Tatjana, Hoeppli Marie-Eve, Piguet Camille, Hofstetter Christoph, Rieger Sebastian W., Vuilleumier Patrik (2015), Brain systems underlying expectancy bias in spider phobia, in Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience
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Aue Tatjana, Okon-Singer Hadas (2015), Expectancy biases in fear and anxiety and their link to biases in attention, in Clinical Psychology Review
, 42, 83.
Aue Tatjana, Guex Raphael, Chauvigné Léa A. S., Okon-Singer Hadas (2013), Varying expectancies and the attention bias in phobic and nonphobic individuals, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
, 7, 418.
Aue Tatjana, Hoeppli Marie-Eve, Piguet Camille, Sterpenich Virginie, Vuilleumier Patrik (2013), Visual avoidance in phobia: Particularities in neural activity, autonomic responding, and cognitive risk evaluations, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
, 7, 194.
Aue Tatjana, Hoeppli Marie-Eve, Piguet Camille (2012), The sensitivity of physiological measures to phobic and non-phobic fear intensity, in Journal of Psychophysiology
, 26, 154-167.
Aue Tatjana, Hoeppli Marie-Eve (2012), Evidence for an encounter expectancy bias in fear of spiders, in Cognition and Emotion
, 26, 727-736.
Aue Tatjana, Guex Raphaël, Chauvigné Léa A. S., Okon-Singer Hadas, Vuilleumier Patrik, Expectancies influence attention to neutral but not necessarily to threatening stimuli: An fMRI study, in Emotion
The current project aims at a systematic investigation of biased expectations in spider phobia by studying behavior as well as brain activity/connectivity (fMRI) and somatovisceral responses (e.g., heart rate, skin conductance, and respiration). Results from the already conducted and still to be conducted experiments will allow us to draw a more complete picture of the cognitive and physiological particularities in spider phobia, and may have implications for therapeutic applications.The first studies conducted in this project investigated biased expectancies as regards the frequency of encounters with phobogenic stimulus material (see 2.2 State of personal research in the field, for details) and revealed some important divergences in cognitive processing between phobics and normal controls. Moreover, these particularities were clearly reflected in brain activity. Amongst other things it was demonstrated that spider-phobic participants systematically overestimated the likelihood of encountering a spider with respect to the likelihood of encountering a snake or a bird. What is more, in phobics, activity in various structures belonging to the default network (dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, inferior parietal cortex, and precuneus; e.g., Raichle & Snyder, 2007) decreased with increasing subjective risk of encountering spiders, suggesting perturbance of self-related processing during confrontations with spiders. Such a perturbance could be the reason of deficient self-regulation in spider phobia. Another experiment investigated the application of two different cognitive strategies (e.g., emphasizing that something is happening in real versus not) and how these expectancies modulate the influence of guided attentional deployment on fear intensity. Interestingly, preliminary data of this study suggest that voluntary control of expectancies (real versus not real) may be inefficient in spider phobia. For this reason, a third study examined the efficiency of different types of cognitive strategies to modify expectancies (visual versus verbal versus physiological strategies); its data remain to be analyzed.In a potential extension of this project, I now would like to study the interplay between two important biases observed in specific phobia - the expectancy bias and the attention bias. These two biases have, so far, been investigated independently from each other. Specifically, it is hypothesized that an individual’s expectancies concerning frequencies and consequences of confrontations with threatening stimuli could sensitize the individual for certain types of stimuli. Such a mechanism, may then lead the individual to engage in active search and guide his/her attention to evidence in the environment that supports the already existent expectancies. On the other hand, it is also possible that abnormality related to attention leads to different expectations or even that the link between expectancy bias and attention bias is bi-directional. The proposed research addresses the possible existence and causality of a link between expectancies and attention in spider phobia and employs behavioral, neural, and somatovisceral measures. The research is to be conducted in close collaboration with an established researcher in the area of attention bias - Dr. Hadas Okon-Singer from the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig.