Author(s): Duque A, Vzquez C
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Abstract BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: According to cognitive models, attentional biases in depression play key roles in the onset and subsequent maintenance of the disorder. The present study examines the processing of emotional facial expressions (happy, angry, and sad) in depressed and non-depressed adults. METHODS: Sixteen unmedicated patients with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and 34 never-depressed controls (ND) completed an eye-tracking task to assess different components of visual attention (orienting attention and maintenance of attention) in the processing of emotional faces. RESULTS: Compared to ND, participants with MDD showed a negative attentional bias in attentional maintenance indices (i.e. first fixation duration and total fixation time) for sad faces. This attentional bias was positively associated with the severity of depressive symptoms. Furthermore, the MDD group spent a marginally less amount of time viewing happy faces compared with the ND group. No differences were found between the groups with respect to angry faces and orienting attention indices. LIMITATIONS: The current study is limited by its cross-sectional design. CONCLUSIONS: These results support the notion that attentional biases in depression are specific to depression-related information and that they operate in later stages in the deployment of attention. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article was published in J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry
and referenced in Journal of Psychiatry