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Thirty-Third Annual Meeting of the Society for Research in Psychopathology

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157. The relationship between childhood trauma severity and information processing of threat in adulthood

Childhood trauma may contribute to adult maladjustment by causing information processing biases. The present study examined whether childhood trauma severity was associated with attention bias in adulthood and whether these relationships varied depending on whether attention bias was assessed under safety or threat conditions. Adults with a history of childhood interpersonal trauma (N = 49) completed a dot probe task in which they watched a series of paired threatening and neutral faces under two trial conditions: a threat condition with aversive audio stimuli and a safety condition without audio. A general linear model was conducted with childhood trauma severity as a continuous between-subjects factor, and current internalizing symptoms as a covariate. Results revealed a significant trial type x task condition x childhood trauma interaction [F(2, 45= 5.887, Greenhouse-Geisser = 4.205, p = .022]. Follow-up analyses revealed that after partialling out current internalizing symptoms, childhood trauma was associated with greater difficulty disengaging from a threatening image during threat relative to safety trials (r = .452, p = .001). Results suggest that childhood trauma has a lasting impact on attentional bias into adulthood, independent of mood symptoms, and this association is impacted by whether bias is assessed while under threat.

Ramona L. Martinez
University of California, Irvine

Elyse R. Shenberger
University of Illinois at Chicago; Northwestern University

Randy A. Boley
Rush University

Hasan Mustafic
Rush University

Mark Pollack
Rush University

Stewart A. Shankman
University of Illinois at Chicago; Northwestern University

Alyson K. Zalta
Rush University; University of California, Irvine


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