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Attentional blink impairment in social anxiety disorder: Depression comorbidity matters


Background and objectives

Difficulties with attentional control have long been thought to play a key role in anxiety and depressive disorders. However, the nature and extent of attentional control difficulties in social anxiety disorder (SAD) are not yet well understood. The current study was designed to assess whether attentional control for non-emotional information is impaired in SAD when taking comorbid depression into account..


Individuals with SAD and healthy controls (HCs) were administered an attentional blink (AB) task in which they identified number targets in a rapid serial visual presentation stream of letters.


Individuals with SAD and current comorbid depression exhibited reduced accuracy to identify a target that fell within the AB window after the presentation of a first target compared to individuals with SAD without current comorbid depression, as well as to HCs. The latter two groups did not differ from each other, and the three groups did not differ in accuracy for the second target when it was presented after the AB window.


Although we included two clinical groups and the sample size for the non-comorbid SAD group was large, the comorbid SAD group was relatively small.


These results suggest that impaired attentional control among individuals with SAD may be limited to those suffering from current comorbid depression..

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