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Title: Attentional bias to threat following acquired brain injury : the role of self-discrepancy and executive functioning
Author: Gilligan, Liam
ISNI:       0000 0004 5371 3952
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2015
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Objective: Experimental evidence indicates that those with a wide range of mental health conditions show an attentional bias for specific threat relevant information, (e.g., Bar-Haim et al., 2007) with research beginning to explore whether this same threat sensitivity occurs in survivors of acquired brain injury (ABI; Gracey, Evans, & Malley, 2009; Riley, Brennan, & Powell, 2004; Riley, Dennis, & Powell, 2010). This study explored, experimentally, whether those with an ABI demonstrate an attentional bias towards threatening stimuli (negative evaluation/physically threatening), and what factors may influence this bias. Method: 35 participants who had sustained an ABI completed a visual dot-probe task, alongside measures of self-discrepancy, affective distress and executive functioning. Results: Whilst the pattern of results is indicative of this threat detection hypothesis, the difference between threat and neutral trials was found to be non-significant (p = .053). Exploratory analyses indicated that executive functioning and affective distress may act as contributing factors to attentional bias. Self-discrepancy between past and current self did not have an impact on attentional bias to negative evaluation stimuli, although discrepancy between current and pre-injury/ideal self was found to correlate with anxiety and depression. Conclusions: The hypotheses were not supported in this study. The clinical and theoretical implications are discussed (e.g., aetiology of threat/affective difficulties and implications for treatment), alongside limitations of the study (e.g., potential sampling considerations) and potential directions for further research are suggested (e.g., exploring potential contributing factors) to help us to further understand the factors that may be involved in attentional bias to threat following brain injury.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available