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Attentional Bias Toward Pictorial Representations of Pain in Individuals With Chronic Headache

Schoth, Daniel E. MSc; Liossi, Christina DPsych

doi: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e3181bed0f9
Original Articles

Objectives This study investigated attentional biases for pictorial headache-related stimuli in individuals with chronic headache and healthy controls.

Methods Attentional bias was assessed using a visual probe task that presented headache-related images and neutral images at 2 exposure duration conditions, 500 and 1250 ms.

Results The results indicated that individuals with chronic daily headache showed a significantly greater overall attentional bias across presentation times toward headache-related stimuli compared with the controls, which indicates a bias in both initial orienting and maintained attention to pain cues in this group.

Discussion It is concluded that both hypervigilance and sustained processing are critical factors for the maintenance of chronic pain.

School of Psychology, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK.

Daniel E. Schoth is supported by an ESRC PhD studentship

Reprints: Christina Liossi, DPsych, School of Psychology, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK (e-mail:

Received for publication March 5, 2009

revised August 7, 2009 accepted August 26, 2009

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.