Attention in Anxiety & Depression

Child-alone-on-bench

The purpose of this study is to examine stimulus-driven attention (involuntarily orienting towards newly appearing stimuli) and attention biases (preferential attention towards negative versus neutral stimuli) in children with anxiety disorders, children with depression, and typically developing children. The purpose is to investigate whether specific attentional impairments can be identified in these disorders compared to healthy children. We are interested in both general attention changes as well as changes in functional brain networks that are involved in guiding attention. To achieve this goal, we recruited a sample of children with anxiety disorders, children with depression, and typically developing children. Participants were interviewed, completed a computer task that was designed to obtain measures of (1) stimulus-driven attention and (2) attention biases towards faces with angry or sad versus neutral expressions. A subset of children were invited to participate in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies designed to investigate attentional networks.

We are currently finished recruiting for this study and are in the second phase, which is a 2-year follow up. We are having children come back for an in-person office assessment that is exactly like the first in-person assessment. Participants are also asked to do another MRI scan if they had completed one 2 years prior.