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Title: Defocused attention in depressed mood
Author: Fazilat Pour, Masoud
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2008
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In series of fundamental attempts, a recent account of attentional changes in depressed mood is examined, addressing a defocused mode of attentional processing in depressed mood. Firstly, the general explanatory power of the defocused attention concept across all stages of the processing continuum was assessed. Secondly, the possible empirical constrain of the defocused attention notion are tested. Results in general gave support to the notion of a defocused mode of attention, whereby depressed people allocated more attention to peripheral word stimuli than nondepressives. In addition, depressives demonstrated greater sensitivity to peripheral, irrelevant, and non-central aspects within the environment, as compared to people in the nondepressed group. Finally, depressed people showed a norm-deviant performance in ranking typicality as a measure of semantic proximity. The examination of possible empirical constrain of defocused attention showed support for factors including the type of response that is required in a task, (e.g., RT, accuracy and typicality), involved strategies (automatic vs. effortful) and task characteristics. The first experiment yielded strong support for defocused attention, i.e., equal speed on processing of word stimuli from different eccentricities, and also for even-handedness in attentional processing, that is, equal performance levels with respect to word stimuli from different valences. Experiment two on processing of nonword perceptual signals showed support for a control motivated performance, that is, a greater sensitivity to focal stimuli as displayed by the depressed as compared to the nondepressed individuals. Striking support for defocused attention was found in experiment three with regards to processing of a focal task and the perception of peripheral non-targets, in which depressed people showed greater sensitivities than nondepressives to the peripheral environment, except when the recognition of peripheral objects required more effortful processing. The findings from experiments 4a and 4b showed that depressive's defocused attention was present at the semantic level, where the task required the ranking of typicality for given exemplars of a category label (typicality rating task), a task that is assumed to require non-recall based processing, but not on tasks requiring the active retrieval of exemplars from long term memory for a given category label (exemplar generation task).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available