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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

EEG biofeedback improves attentional bias in high trait anxiety individuals

Sheng Wang, Yan Zhao, Sijuan Chen, Guiping Lin, Peng Sun and Tinghuai Wang*

Author Affiliations

Department of Physiology, Zhongshan School of Medicine, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, People’s Republic of China

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BMC Neuroscience 2013, 14:115  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-14-115

Published: 7 October 2013

Abstract

Background

Emotion-related attentional bias is implicated in the aetiology and maintenance of anxiety disorders. Electroencephalogram (EEG) biofeedback can obviously improve the anxiety disorders and reduce stress level, and can also enhance attention performance in healthy subjects. The present study examined the effects and mechanisms of EEG biofeedback training on the attentional bias of high trait anxiety (HTA) individuals toward negative stimuli.

Results

Event-related potentials were recorded while HTA (n=24) and nonanxious (n=21) individuals performed the color-word emotional Stroop task. During the emotional Stroop task, HTA participants showed longer reaction times and P300 latencies induced by negative words, compared to nonanxious participants.

The EEG biofeedback significantly decreased the trait anxiety inventory score and reaction time in naming the color of negative words in the HTA group. P300 latencies evoked by negative stimuli in the EEG biofeedback group were significantly reduced after the alpha training, while no significant changes were observed in the sham biofeedback group after the intervention.

Conclusion

The prolonged P300 latency is associated with attentional bias to negative stimuli in the HTA group. EEG biofeedback training demonstrated a significant improvement of negative emotional attentional bias in HTA individuals, which may be due to the normalization of P300 latency.

Keywords:
EEG Biofeedback; Anxiety; Event-related potentials; P300; Attention