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Keywords:

  • Attentional bias modification;
  • N2pc;
  • Spatial attention;
  • Emotional faces

Abstract

A relatively new cognitive-affective training procedure, the Attentional Bias Modification (ABM) technique, is thought to decrease biases in the allocation of attention toward negative emotional stimuli. In two studies, we tested in samples of healthy students whether a single session of ABM has an influence on early orienting of spatial attention as indexed by the N2pc. Replicating previous studies, we found an occipitotemporal N2pc (180–300 ms) contralateral to angry versus neutral facial expressions, indicating that threatening faces automatically draw attention in early stages of stimulus processing. However, this N2pc effect did not significantly change during the ABM training session. Our results therefore indicate that a single session of ABM does not affect early attentional orienting. ABM effects reported in prior research may therefore have been mediated by later cognitive-affective mechanisms.