Attentional biases for threat in at-risk daughters and mothers with lifetime panic disorder

Mogg, Karin, Wilson, Kimberley A., Hayward, Chris, Cunning, Darby and Bradley, Brendan P. (2012) Attentional biases for threat in at-risk daughters and mothers with lifetime panic disorder The Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 121, (4), pp. 852-862. (doi:10.1037/a0028052).


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Children of parents with panic disorder (PD) have high risk for developing anxiety disorders. However, the mechanisms involved in transmission of risk are uncertain. Cognitive models of anxiety propose that information-processing biases underlie anxiety vulnerability; in particular, attentional biases for threat. Consequently, this study examined attentional biases in mothers with lifetime PD and their daughters (aged 9 - 14 years). Sixty mother-daughter dyads (N = 120) were recruited to the study; half the mothers had lifetime PD (i.e., either a current or past history of PD); half had no psychiatric history. Attentional biases were assessed using a visual-probe task with pictorial and word stimuli related to physical-health threat. Stimulus duration was varied to examine the time-course of attentional biases (initial orienting and maintained attention). Results showed an attentional bias for threat in daughters of mothers with lifetime PD, compared with daughters of mothers with no PD history. Specifically, at-risk daughters had an attentional bias for physical-health threat cues (words and pictures) at the longer stimulus duration of 1250 ms (but not at 500 ms). In addition, attentional bias for threat in girls was associated with increased physical-health threat worries. Mothers with lifetime PD did not significantly differ from mothers with no PD history on the indices of attentional bias. The findings are discussed in terms of an attentional threat-monitoring strategy in at-risk girls, and argue against the view that there is simple transmission of an anxiety-related attentional processing style across generations.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1037/a0028052
ISSNs: 0021-843X (print)
Related URLs:
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Organisations: Clinical Neuroscience
ePrint ID: 334448
Date :
Date Event
27 February 2012Published
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2012 15:11
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2017 17:27
Further Information:Google Scholar

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