The role of attentional biases in PTSD: Is it interference or facilitation?

Suzanne L. Pineles*, Jillian C. Shipherd, Lisa P. Welch, Iftah Yovel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


Although attentional biases have been demonstrated in individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the cognitive methodologies used have not allowed for disambiguation of two types of attentional biases. It remains unclear if PTSD involves difficulty disengaging attention from threatening stimuli (interference) or facilitated detection. To differentiate between attentional interference and facilitation, 57 male Vietnam-era veterans (30 High PTSD and 27 Low PTSD) completed a visual search task with a lexical decision component. High PTSD veterans who engaged in the interference task first showed increased interference to threat-relevant words relative to Low PTSD veterans. However, no evidence was found for facilitated detection of threatening stimuli in PTSD.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1903-1913
Number of pages11
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2007


  • Attentional bias
  • Attentional facilitation
  • Attentional interference
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder


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