Cognition and Emotion Laboratory

Department of Psychology

The University of Western Australia

 

 

 

 


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Contents

 Introduction

 Disclaimer

 Methodological information for Attentional Probe Task

 Instructions for use of Attentional Probe Task

 Download Attentional Probe Task

 Distribution of this task

 Citation for this task

 Contact

 Word Pairs

 Upgrade Now Available for Existing Attentional Probe Software Users

 


Introduction

This website provides a free downloadable software package that can be used to create an on-line version of the attentional probe task employed within the Cognition and Emotion Laboratory, School of Psychology, The University of Western Australia.

Research with both clinical and normal populations have shown that the efficacy of this on-line attentional probe task at detecting and manipulating attentional biases is comparable to attentional probe tasks used in previous studies (MacLeod, Soong, Rutherford, & Campbell, under review).

Researchers can download the software package, customize the software and install it on their own servers to enable the attentional probe task to be administered over the internet. If researchers wish to employ the software within laboratory settings, they will still need to customize the program, install it on their servers and access it via the internet. The software can be configured to deliver any combination of questionnaires, training trials, and assessment trials, using the researcher's choice of stimulus materials. When the task is accessed and completed across the internet, the resulting data are transmitted back to the e-mail address specified by the researcher.

We have produced a comprehensive user guide for this fully customizable attentional probe software package. This user guide downloads simultaneously with the software.

The software was programmed using Java, and is accessed via any internet browser which supports Java components (e.g., Internet Explorer).

We have made available this software package to facilitate research progress by rendering attentional assessment and modification procedures readily accessible to geographically dispersed clients, who can complete the task within their home environments.

We very much hope that provision of this package will enable a wider range of clinical researchers to investigate the role of threat attentional bias in mediating and modifying anxiety symptoms across a wider range of clinical patients. We also expect that the resource may facilitate many forms of constructive collaboration, particularly between researchers and practitioners, enabling both theoretical and applied advances to be made in the investigation of the relationship between attentional bias and anxiety vulnerability.

We would be interested in receiving feedback on the results of any application of the task provided on this web site. Should you wish to collaborate in future research projects, or require further information, please contact us. While we are keen to engage in such collaborations, we regret we are unable to provide individual support to independent researchers.

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Disclaimer

The programs appearing on this web site are intended solely for use by suitably qualified researchers.

None of the material on this web site is intended as a substitute for diagnosis and/or treatment by a qualified health professional. Persons with anxiety symptoms are advised to seek clinical evaluation from a qualified health professional.

The Cognition and Emotion Laboratory and its staff accept no responsibility for any inappropriate application of any task provided on this web site. The Cognition and Emotion Laboratory and its staff shall have no liability for claims by, or damages of any kind whatsoever to a user of this web site or any other person, for the use of any task contained on this web site. Such damages include, without limitation, direct, indirect, special, incidental, or consequential damages.

Information and materials, unless otherwise stated, are copyrighted by the Cognition and Emotion Laboratory and may be downloaded for use in research and clinical settings. Permission must be sought for any commercial activity associated with the use of this software.

Your use of this web site constitutes your agreement to the provisions of this disclaimer.

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Methodological information for Attentional Probe Task

Task

The package provides a standard version of the attentional probe task, with provision for the researcher to customize parameters and stimuli, and to precede the task with administration of questionnaires.

Attentional Probe Task delivery is preceded by comprehensive task instructions which allow self-paced viewing by participants.

Each trial commences with the fixation cue '+++', presented in the centre of the screen.

Immediately following termination of this display, the two members of a word pair (one threat word, one non-threat word) are presented. One word appears just above the location of the preceding fixation cue, while the other word appears just below this location.

The stimulus words are replaced by one of two probes, a symbol pointing to either the left or the right (i.e., < vs >). This screen remains until the program detects a response.

Participants respond by pressing the left or right arrow key to indicate their discrimination of the symbol direction. When a response is detected, the screen is cleared and the next trial commences.

The position of the threat word in each word pair is randomised, such that it appears either in the upper or lower screen location with equal probability. On attentional assessment trials the probe location is also randomised such that it appears in the location vacated by the threat word or the non-threat word with equal probability. The order of presentation of trials is also randomised. The probe type is determined randomly on each trial.

Customizable features include the option of:

 Administering questions/questionnaires before the experimental trials.

 Administering practice trials before the experimental trials.

 Specifying the type of trials - assessment or training, and

 For training trials, specifying a contingency that encourages attentional bias towards threat, towards non-threat, or no contingency trials.

 Specifying the combination of trial types to be presented - for example, a block of assessment trials, followed by a block of training trials.

 Specifying the number of trials in each block.

 Specifying the word pairs to be presented in each block.

Default stimuli

96 word pairs were used in the original studies that verified the validity of this program (MacLeod et al., under review). These word pairs are included in the program download. Researchers have the option of using them, or substituting their own word stimuli.

Each word pair contains one emotionally-negative and one emotionally-neutral member. Words within each pair are matched for length and frequency of usage (according to Kucera & Francis, 1967). The words were rated on a 9 point scale ranging from a score of 1 for very negative, through 5 for neutral, to 9 for very positive. The final word set includes pairs with a negative member with a mean rating less than 3.7, and a neutral member with a mean rating between 4.6 and 5.9. The mean rating difference between the two members of any pair was at least 1.75, with an average of 2.62. The full set of word pairs is provided below.

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Instructions for use of Attentional Probe Task software package

Preparing the presentation

There are four different web pages, which are configured to be delivered in the following order:

 fixation.html

This is the very first web page presented. It checks the appearance of the task on the participant's computer, and asks participants to adjust their computer settings if necessary. This page provides links to instructions.html and attProbe.html

 instructions.html

This web page is linked from fixation.html. It provides instructions to participants on how to adjust their screen resolution if necessary. It provides a link back to fixation.html.

 attProbe.html

This web page is also linked from fixation.html. It contains the experimental instructions and task.

 ThankYou.html

This web page is automatically accessed from attProbe.html when the experimental task is completed. It is the final web page presented, and informs the participants that the experiment is over. This can be customised to provide feedback or any other information that the researcher wishes to provide.

For delivery to participants over the internet it is advisable to have an introduction page containing information about the experiment and a consent form if required. This introduction page should link to fixation.html.

Setting up the experimental session

For participants accessing the study over the internet, all information and instructions for the Attentional Probe task have been included in the package. If administering the task to participants in a laboratory environment, it is possible to skip the instructions by pressing 's' instead of 'p' during the instruction screens, and providing verbal instructions instead.

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Download Attentional Probe Task Program

PLEASE NOTE: While this software has been implemented successfully on our school server in the past, its installation on your own server may require support from your systems administrator. Unfortunately we are unable to provide the particular support and expertise for the installation and running of this software outside of the written instructions provided on this and the following webpage.

Click the following link for instructions regarding download and installation.

 

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Distribution of this task

Users are welcome to share this software with other researchers provided that the material is distributed in its original zipped format, including all the original zipped information. Those researchers will also have to email us to retrieve the password in order to install the software.

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Citation for this task

We request that any publications arising from the use of the software from this site reference the software in the following APA approved format:

Cognition and Emotion Laboratory, Department of Psychology, The University of Western Australia. (2003). On-line Attentional Probe Task Program [Downloadable software]. Available at: http://www.psy.uwa.edu.au/labs/cogemo/AttProbe1.html

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Word pairs

THREAT

NEUTRAL

 

THREAT

NEUTRAL

PANICKY

CLARETS

 

UNPOPULAR

SHORELINE

DESPERATE

VARIABLES

 

SAD

PAT

CRINGING

NECKLACE

 

POINTLESS

LUNCHROOM

CAUTIOUS

EDITIONS

 

GLUM

KITE

SCARED

PLANET

 

REJECTED

QUANTITY

CANCER

SADDLE

 

POWERLESS

MULTITUDE

DANGER

LEAGUE

 

SICKLY

TOKENS

ALARMED

SHELVES

 

DEVASTATED

STAGECOACH

CORONARY

RECEIPTS

 

INFERIOR

SHEARING

TRAUMA

ENJOIN

 

FAIL

EARS

EDGY

RINK

 

DEFEAT

MUSEUM

EMERGENCY

LISTENING

 

LONELY

JERSEY

DISTRESS

CREATURE

 

FATIGUE

AVOCADO

UNSETTLED

ADVOCATED

 

IGNORED

LIGHTED

HOSTILE

ROLLING

 

SLUGGISH

TEXTURED

CONFUSED

ARRANGED

 

GROAN

FLUTE

TOUCHY

TINTED

 

MISERABLE

STATEWIDE

FRIGHT

SIPPED

 

BROODING

PROTEINS

WORRIED

CONTEXT

 

UNFORTUNATE

COMMODITIES

NAUSEA

CONFER

 

DESPISED

TOMATOES

DISEASE

REMARKS

 

PATHETIC

CLEANERS

WARY

FOLD

 

HUMILIATED

WATERPROOF

SINISTER

INTEGRAL

 

HAZARD

BALLOT

MUTILATED

DECANTING

 

INTIMIDATED

COEFFICIENT

NERVOUS

OUTCOME

 

QUAKING

ANAGRAM

ASSAULT

BOTTLES

 

TIMID

SATIN

SUFFOCATING

CONSTITUENT

 

TEASE

AISLE

CATASTROPHE

APPROXIMATE

 

DISMAL

MIDWAY

LOST

READ

 

HOPELESS

FEATHERS

HARM

NOON

 

AWFUL

TRACT

TENSE

BACKS

 

DESERTED

MARCHING

JUMPY

LOTUS

 

FUTILE

ATTIRE

DEFENSIVE

GEOMETRIC

 

MOURN

SCANS

EMBARRASSED

MICROSCOPIC

 

DISCOURAGED

CONNECTIONS

LETHAL

RACKET

 

INADEQUATE

TRANSITION

APPREHENSION

INSTRUMENTAL

 

DISCONTENTED

HOUSEHOLDERS

AMBULANCE

MOMENTARY

 

INFORM

DEPOTS

ATTACK

SEASON

 

MISUNDERSTOOD

MANIFESTATION

HORROR

WAGONS

 

GLOOMY

PASTEL

STRANGLED

SIGNATURE

 

USELESS

FLOWING

AGITATION

FIREPLACE

 

FORLORN

KEYHOLE

INSECURE

FETCHING

 

TORMENTED

MYTHOLOGY

INCURABLE

RECLAIMED

 

DEATHBED

SOFTENER

SUICIDE

SUMMERS

 

UNHAPPY

BRIDGES

FUNERAL

HUNTING

 

DULL

FLEW

GRIEVING

HALLMARK

 

DREADFUL

COMPUTER

TRAGEDY

REQUEST

 

COFFIN

EDITED

WORTHLESS

BATTERIES

 

MISTAKE

QUARTER

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Upgrade for Existing Attentional Probe Software Users 

 

                        

An upgrade of the attentional probe software is now available for those who have already installed the original program. This allows the program to be run without errors on a wider range of PCs (but has not yet been trialed on Macs).

 

For this upgrade to operate, the original attentional probe software must already be installed.

 

To install this upgraded version, click here.

 

 


 

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