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Stuart Pugh, Tamaryn Menneer, Dominic Taunton, Matt Garner, Nick Donnelly; Exposure to acute psychosocial stress modulates the effect of cue validity in an attention orienting task.. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):1126. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/18.10.1126.
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Previously we have reported that attentional alertness improves in the period immediately following exposure to an acute psychosocial stressor (Pugh et al., 2017). Pugh et al. also reported an unexpected effect of stress on the cue validity effect following exposure. The cue validity effect was modulated by time from the stressor. The experiment reported here seeks to confirm and extend the finding of a time-contingent effect of stress on orienting. Participants responded to the direction of a central arrow, flanked by pairs of distractors and comprised of two cue conditions (valid/invalid), two target conditions (congruent/incongruent) and two cue-target intervals (400/800ms). Each run of the orienting task took around 15-minutes (384 trials). Participants completed the task three times. First in a baseline run (T1). Second, immediately after participants had completed either a psychosocial stressor (Socially-Evaluative Cold Pressor Task – Schwabe et al., 2008) or comparable control (T2). Third, at a time point 20-minutes after completing the stressor / control (T3). T2 and T3 measured orienting at time points in line with recognised maximal physiological reactions to stress (Sympathetic Nervous System and Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis). Stress state was recorded using self-report measures (SSAI, Spielberger, 1989; adapted NASA-TLX, Hart & Staveland, 1998) and demonstrated successful stress induction. The results confirmed the finding of Pugh et al. (2017), that cue validity effects are differentially affected by stress at T2 and T3 relative to baseline (T1). The results suggest that the pattern of cue validity effects that are measured over repeated blocks of the orienting task are subject to both practice and fatigue effects in controls. However, in the stress group, exposure to the acute psychosocial stressor prevented the emergence of an enhanced cue validity effect at T2. These results are discussed in terms of the influence of stress on broader aspects of the attentional networks.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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