September 2021
Volume 21, Issue 9
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2021
Horizontal vs. vertical spatial anisotropy of attentional bias toward negatively valenced words
Author Affiliations
  • Tomoyuki Tanda
    Hokkaido University
  • Jun Kawahara
Journal of Vision September 2021, Vol.21, 2183. doi:
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      Tomoyuki Tanda, Jun Kawahara; Horizontal vs. vertical spatial anisotropy of attentional bias toward negatively valenced words. Journal of Vision 2021;21(9):2183.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Salient objects or events capture visual attention exogenously, and this biased allocation of attention can be modulated by contexts endogenously. Similarly, because this attentional bias is contingent on viewers’ emotional state high trait-anxious population show attentional bias toward negatively valenced words and facial expressions. A literature review of the studies on attentional bias measured by dot-probe procedures in which participants respond to a probe preceded by a pair of negative and neutral words or faces suggests larger number of publications in horizontal relative to vertical word arrangements, whereas the pattern was opposite in negative-neutral face pairs. The present study examined the effect of spatial arrangements of negative vs. neutral word pairs on attentional bias in a healthy population, while introducing different levels of attentional demands by manipulating the type of probe task. A factorial design considering the spatial arrangement of words (vertical or horizontal) and the task (detection, localization, and discrimination) resulted in six between-participant comparisons. Participants viewed a word pair comprising a neutral and a negative word for 500 ms, followed by a target probe presentation at the location of either the neutral (incongruent condition) or the negative word (congruent condition). The scores for attentional bias toward negative stimuli, calculated as the mean difference in reaction time between the incongruent and congruent conditions of the localization task under the vertical arrangement, were significantly correlated with trait anxiety measured by the State–Trait Anxiety Inventory, whereas no such relationship was obtained under the horizontal arrangement. The spatial arrangement effect was weaker in the detection and identification tasks. The results suggest that attentional bias toward negative words can be modulated by the spatial arrangement of the stimuli and the attentional resources required for responses to the probe.


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