Training attention to reduce attention bias towards threat and anxiety: a randomized control trial feasibility study

Master program titleMaîtrise universitaire en neurosciences
Defense date2021-09-28

The main goal of the following pilot RCT study is to investigate the feasibility of a 6-week video game-based training intervention experiment performed at home, delivered through the internet, the primary outcome of the feasibility study being adherence. A maximum of 20% drop-out rate was considered a success for conducting future studies. This home-based intervention also aimed to test the hypothesis that training attention with a 6-week training may ameliorate attention and mitigate anxiety and attentional biases to threat (ABTT) associated with anxiety (Bar-Haim et al., 2007). Our literature review led to hypothesize that training attentional control with a gamified adaptation of the Multiple Object Tracking (MOT) task for 6 weeks would improve attentional control (Bediou et al., 2018). Based on the model of Bishop (2007) and evidence that executive attention may be trained to increase emotion regulation (Schweizer et al., 2013), we also hypothesized that attention training might ameliorate emotion regulation skills, and therefore reduce anxiety and attentional biases to threat, compared to a wait-list control group. Another goal of the present project was to investigate the sensitivity (with anxiety) and reliability of two behavioral paradigms widely used for measuring the ABTT - the emotional Dot-probe paradigm (facial expressions) and the emotional Stroop paradigm (words) - and their correlation with anxiety, following the criticisms raised about the ability of these tasks to capture the ABTT (Rodebaugh et al., 2016). We recruited 66 participants aged between 18 and 35 years for the experiment. An MOT task was used to assess the effect of attention training on attentional control, as well as a Dot-probe and an Emotional Stroop for attentional biases to threat. Anxiety levels were collected with the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory – Trait (STAI-T). Results showed an overall drop-out rate (including both control and experimental group) of 31,82%, exceeding the 20% maximum to be considered a success, no effect of the home-based training over attentional control, and no effect on both ABTT and anxiety levels. Although suffering from a very small sample size (12), investigation of both Dot-probe and Emotional Stroop paradigms to measure ABTT showed unacceptably low sensitivity to anxiety and reliability over 6 weeks for both. We finally discussed potential solutions to decrease drop-outs and made suggestions regarding more reliable paradigms to measure ABTT in future studies.

  • Anxiety
  • Attention bias to threat
  • Attention training
  • Video game training
  • Attention control
  • Home-based training
Citation (ISO format)
MICHEL-MAZAN, Loïs. Training attention to reduce attention bias towards threat and anxiety: a randomized control trial feasibility study. 2021.
Main files (1)
Master thesis
  • PID : unige:159951

Technical informations

Creation29.03.2022 09:25:00
First validation29.03.2022 09:25:00
Update time16.03.2023 02:59:36
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