Assessing attentional biases with stuttering

Lowe, Robyn, Menzies, Ross, Packman, Ann, O'Brian, Sue, Jones, Mark and Onslow, Mark (2016) Assessing attentional biases with stuttering. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 51 1: 84-94. doi:10.1111/1460-6984.12187

Author Lowe, Robyn
Menzies, Ross
Packman, Ann
O'Brian, Sue
Jones, Mark
Onslow, Mark
Title Assessing attentional biases with stuttering
Journal name International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1460-6984
Publication date 2016-01-01
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/1460-6984.12187
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 51
Issue 1
Start page 84
End page 94
Total pages 11
Place of publication Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom
Publisher John Wiley & Sons
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Many adults who stutter presenting for speech treatment experience social anxiety disorder. The presence of mental health disorders in adults who stutter has been implicated in a failure to maintain speech treatment benefits. Contemporary theories of social anxiety disorder propose that the condition is maintained by negative cognitions and information processing biases. Consistent with cognitive theories, the probe detection task has shown that social anxiety is associated with an attentional bias to avoid social information. This information processing bias is suggested to be involved in maintaining anxiety. Evidence is emerging for information processing biases being involved with stuttering.

This study investigated information processing in adults who stutter using the probe detection task. Information processing biases have been implicated in anxiety maintenance in social anxiety disorder and therefore may have implications for the assessment and treatment of stuttering. It was hypothesized that stuttering participants compared with control participants would display an attentional bias to avoid attending to social information.

Methods & Procedures
Twenty-three adults who stutter and 23 controls completed a probe detection task in which they were presented with pairs of photographs: a face displaying an emotional expression—positive, negative or neutral—and an everyday household object. All participants were subjected to a mild social threat induction being told they would speak to a small group of people on completion of the task.

Outcomes & Results
The stuttering group scored significantly higher than controls for trait anxiety, but did not differ from controls on measures of social anxiety. Non-socially anxious adults who stutter did not display an attentional bias to avoid looking at photographs of faces relative to everyday objects. Higher scores on trait anxiety were positively correlated with attention towards photographs of negative faces.

Conclusion & Implications
Attentional biases as assessed by the probe detection task may not be a characteristic of non-socially anxious adults who stutter. A vigilance to attend to threat information with high trait anxiety is consistent with findings of studies using the emotional Stroop task in stuttering and social anxiety disorder. Future research should investigate attentional processing in people who stutter who are socially anxious. It will also be useful for future studies to employ research paradigms that involve speaking. Continued research is warranted to explore information processing and potential biases that could be involved in the maintenance of anxiety and failure to maintain the benefits of speech treatment outcomes.
Keyword Attentional bias
Social anxiety disorder
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Public Health Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 1 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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