Attentional bias modification for chocolate: Sham-n training as a new control group

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    Although attentional bias modification has been shown effective in several appetitive domains, results have been mixed. A major contributor seems to be the choice of control condition. The aim of the present study was to compare attentional bias modification for chocolate against a new control condition, sham-n (neutral or no-contingency) training. Using a modified dot probe protocol, participants (N = 192; 17–30 years) were randomly trained to attend to chocolate pictures, avoid chocolate pictures, or received sham-n training. In the attend and avoid conditions, stimulus pairs consisted of one chocolate and one non-chocolate picture, and probes replaced most often (90/10) chocolate or non-chocolate pictures, respectively. In the sham-n training condition, stimulus pairs consisted of two chocolate or two non-chocolate pictures, and probes replaced pictures within pairs with equal frequency (50/50). Attentional bias for chocolate increased following attend training, decreased following avoidance training, and did not change following sham-n training. The findings clearly demonstrate that both attend and avoidance training alter (in opposite direction) attentional bias for chocolate, whereas sham-n training is inert. This makes sham-n training particularly promising for use in clinical samples who tend to show strong initial biases.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere0260294
    JournalPLoS One
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2021


    • attentional bias modification
    • Chocolate
    • Sham-n training


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