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Title: Mechanisms of attention for cues associated with rewarding and aversive outcomes
Author: Austin, Alison J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2724 7425
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2010
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Attentional biases arising from classical conditioning processes may contribute to the maintenance of drug addictions and anxiety disorders. This thesis examined whether attentional mechanisms for conditioned stimuli (CS) would be dominated by affective properties (Lang, Greenwald, Bradley, & Hamm, 1993), or the uncertainty of the stimulus in predicting the outcome (Pearce & Hall, 1980). In chapter one affective and uncertainty-driven mechanisms of attention are discussed in relation to rewarding and aversive outcomes. In experimental chapter 2 methodological issues are addressed. In experimental chapters three and four attentional mechanisms are tested using a discriminative conditioning procedure with visual stimuli of varying predictive certainty (CS+,CS+/-,CS-) for a monetary or noise outcome (US). Attention was measured using an eye-tracker, and emotional conditioning and learning were measured using Likert scales. It was found that attention was mediated by uncertainty (chapter 3), but increasing the intensity of the outcome switched attention to affective-driven mechanisms for the noise outcome (chapter 4). In a further experiment this effect on attention remained for the noise outcome even under conditions promoting uncertainty-driven mechanisms (chapter 6). When cigarettes were the unconditioned stimuli instead of money in the appetitive conditioning, attention was also mediated by stimulus affect (chapter 5). In chapter 7 the data are discussed and it is concluded that when the outcome is highly emotionally salient, affective-driven mechanisms of attention dominate over uncertainty.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: QZ Psychology