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Keywords:

  • posttraumatic stress disorder;
  • attention;
  • information processing;
  • anxiety

Abstract

This study investigated preferential encoding of threat material in subjects with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with a modified dot-probe paradigm. This paradigm indexes attentional bias by measuring response latency to name neutral target words that are presented adjacent to or distant from threat words. Motor vehicle accident survivors with PTSD (n = 15), subclinical PTSD (n = 15), and low anxiety (n = 15) were required to name target words that were presented either adjacent to or distant from strong threat, mild threat, positive, and neutral words. PTSD subjects named targets faster when they were in close proximity to mild threat words. Results suggested that PTSD subjects' attention was drawn to the mild threat stimuli and are discussed in the context of network models of PTSD.