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Accueil veterinaires comportementalistes Publications internationales veterinaires comportementalistes The effect of emotional context on cognitive inhibition and attentional processing in dissociative identity disorder

The effect of emotional context on cognitive inhibition and attentional processing in dissociative identity disorder

Martin J. Dorahy, Warwick Middleton and Harvey J. Irwin

Revue : Behaviour Research and Therapy

In light of previous research, the current study tested the hypothesis that dissociative identity disorder (DID) would be characterised by effective cognitive inhibitory functioning when tested in a neutral context, but weakened inhibition when tested in an emotionally negative context. Using a negative priming task (i.e. the flanker task) to assess inhibitory ability 11 DID, 11 depressed, and 11 general population participants were tested in the two differing experimental contexts. The contexts were manipulated by instructions and word stimuli, and following the completion of this task participants completed the Dissociative Experiences Scale and the Schizotypal Personality Scale. DID participants displayed a greater degree of self-reported anxiety in the negative context and as expected displayed a reduction in inhibition in this context but not in the neutral context. The degree of negative priming for the depressed and general population samples remained stable across contexts as did their anxiety levels. The DID sample displayed slower response times to negative compared to neutral words but this attentional bias was not evident for the two comparison groups. The relationship between increased arousal, inhibitory functioning, dissociation and information processing in DID is discussed.

Keywords: Cognitive inhibition; Attentional bias; Emotional context; Dissociative identity disorder

Corresponding author. School of Psychology, The Queen's University of Belfast, David Keir Building, Malone Road, Belfast BT9 5BP, Northern Ireland, UK.

publications scientifiques


Behaviour Research and Therapy - Volume 43, Issue 5, Pages 555-568 (May 2005)



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