Attention biases, anxiety, and development: Toward or away from threats or rewards?

Tomer Shechner, Jennifer C. Britton, Koraly Pérez-Edgar, Yair Bar-Haim, Monique Ernst, Nathan A. Fox, Ellen Leibenluft, Daniel S. Pine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

174 Scopus citations


Research on attention provides a promising framework for studying anxiety pathophysiology and treatment. The study of attention biases appears particularly pertinent to developmental research, as attention affects learning and has down-stream effects on behavior. This review summarizes recent findings about attention orienting in anxiety, drawing on findings in recent developmental psychopathology and affective neuroscience research. These findings generate specific insights about both development and therapeutics. The review goes beyond a traditional focus on biased processing of threats and considers biased processing of rewards. Building on this work, we then turn to the treatment of pediatric anxiety, where manipulation of attention to threat and/or reward may serve a therapeutic role as a component of Attention Bias Modification Therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)282-294
Number of pages13
JournalDepression and anxiety
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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