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Contact: Jules Asher
NIMHpress@nih.gov
301-443-4536
NIH/National Institute of Mental Health

Attention Bias Modification

Caption: Pine and Bar-Haim are using functional brain imaging in studies of a computer-based training method, called attention bias modification (ABM), that helps people learn to shift their attention away from preoccupying stimuli. For example, when performing a task that required matching angry or neutral faces to locations where they briefly flashed on a computer monitor, people with anxiety disorders typically showed faster reaction times to angry faces, signaling biased attention toward threat. In the training, their attention was repeatedly diverted to matching locations of neutral faces only. The researchers propose that offering soldiers a similar preventive intervention prior to deployment might help correct attention biases and reduce the risk of developing PTSD.

Credit: Daniel Pine, MD, NIMH Emotion and Development Branch

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