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Evan Palmer, Andrew Miranda, Maria Chaparro, Amanda Hood, Joseph Keebler; High Susceptibility to Stress Associated with Increased Value-Driven Attentional Capture. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):1346. doi: 10.1167/15.12.1346.
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In this study, we are seeking to identify factors predicting value-driven attentional capture in the normal population. Previous research has shown that high levels of stress lead to addictive behaviors such as substance abuse (Sinha, 2001), and also that recovering substance abuse addicts show more attentional capture for rewarded stimuli than the normal population (Anderson, Faulkner, Rilee, Yantis, & Marvel, 2013). We hypothesized that there may be a relationship between susceptibility to stress and potential for attentional capture from rewarded stimuli in the normal (non-clinical) population. A sample of over 450 participants filled out the Susceptibility to Stress scale (Miller, Smith, & Mehler, 1988) online and 23 also independently participated in a gamified visual search training experiment which has previously been shown to lead to value-driven attentional capture (Miranda & Palmer, 2014). Results indicate that higher scores on the Susceptibility to Stress scale were associated with larger amounts of attentional capture for both the low-reward (r2 = .24, F(1,21) = 6.54, p < .05) and high-reward (r2 = .19, F(1,21) = 5.05, p < .05) conditions. Therefore, individuals with high stress susceptibility may be more vulnerable to reward-system engagement. These findings also coincide with previous research demonstrating that stressful conditions can lead to an increase in dopamine levels in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), which disrupts PFC regulation and thereby the executive control of attention, producing more bottom-up and less top-down attentional control (Arnsten, 2009). We hypothesize that individuals with greater stress susceptibility may have an overactive dopamine presence in the PFC leading to greater attentional capture from previously rewarded stimuli. We are currently investigating the relationship between participants’ current stress levels and the amount of attentional capture they exhibit.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015
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