The effect of visual threat on spatial attention to touch

Poliakoff, Ellen, Miles, Eleanor, Li, Xinying and Blanchette, Isabelle (2007) The effect of visual threat on spatial attention to touch. Cognition, 102 (3). pp. 405-414. ISSN 0010-0277

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Viewing a threatening stimulus can bias visual attention toward that location. Such effects have typically been investigated only in the visual modality, despite the fact that many threatening stimuli are most dangerous when close to or in contact with the body. Recent multisensory research indicates that a neutral visual stimulus, such as a light flash, can lead to a tactile attention shift towards a nearby body part. Here, we investigated whether the threat value of a visual stimulus modulates its effect on attention to touch. Participants made speeded discrimination responses about tactile stimuli presented to one or other hand, preceded by a picture cue (snake, spider, flower or mushroom) presented close to the same or the opposite hand. Pictures of snakes led to a significantly greater tactile attentional facilitation effect than did non-threatening pictures of flowers and mushrooms. Furthermore, there was a correlation between self-reported fear of snakes and spiders and the magnitude of early facilitation following cues of that type. These findings demonstrate that the attentional bias towards threat extends to the tactile modality and indicate that perceived threat value can modulate the cross-modal effect that a visual cue has on attention to touch.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Threat; Attention; Tactile; Cross-modal; Multisensory
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Depositing User: Eleanor Miles
Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2013 13:02
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2017 11:09

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