Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Effects of 7.5% CO2 inhalation on allocation of spatial attention to facial cues of emotional expression

Cooper, Robbie M.; Bailey, Jayne E.; Diaper, Alison; Stirland, Rachel; Renton, Lynne E.; Benton, Christopher P.; Penton-Voak, Ian S.; Nutt, David J.; Munafò, Marcus R.


Robbie M. Cooper

Jayne E. Bailey

Alison Diaper

Rachel Stirland

Lynne E. Renton

Christopher P. Benton

Ian S. Penton-Voak

David J. Nutt

Marcus R. Munafò


Increased vigilance to threat-related stimuli is thought to be a core cognitive feature of anxiety. We sought to investigate the cognitive impact of experimentally induced anxiety, by means of a 7.5% CO2 challenge, which acts as an unconditioned anxiogenic stimulus, on attentional bias for positive and negative facial cues of emotional expression in the dot-probe task. In two experiments we found robust physiological and subjective effects of the CO2 inhalation consistent with the claim that the procedure reliably induces anxiety. Data from the dot-probe task demonstrated an attentional bias to emotional facial expressions compared with neutral faces regardless of valence (happy, angry, and fearful). These attentional effects, however, were entirely inconsistent in terms of their relationship with induced anxiety. We conclude that the previously reported poor reliability of this task is the most parsimonious explanation for our conflicting findings and that future research should develop a more reliable paradigm for measuring attentional bias in this field.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 10, 2010
Online Publication Date Jan 24, 2011
Publication Date 2011-06
Deposit Date Mar 13, 2014
Print ISSN 0269-9931
Electronic ISSN 1464-0600
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 4
Pages 626-638
Keywords Anxiety, 7.5% CO2, Attentional bias, Visual probe, Emotion, Reliability
Public URL