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Somatoform dissociation and somatosensory amplification are differentially associated with attention to the tactile modality following exposure to body-related stimuli.

Brown RJ, Poliakoff E, Kirkman M

Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 2007;62.

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Objective: Body-focused attention is regarded as an important maintaining factor for somatoform illness, although there is limited empirical evidence pertaining to this hypothesis. This study was conducted to assess whether individual differences in somatoform dissociation and somatosensory amplification were associated with biased attention towards the tactile modality, particularly following exposure to threatening body-related stimuli. Methods: Forty-eight nonclinical participants completed the Somatoform Dissociation Questionnaire (SDQ-20; a proxy measure of somatoform symptomatology), the Somatosensory Amplification Scale (SSAS), and a modality bias task. The task consisted of a series of body-relevant or body-irrelevant (scene) picture stimuli, half of which were threatening and half were neutral, followed by target stimuli in either the visual or the tactile modality. Participants judged the location of each target stimulus, and performance data were used to calculate the degree to which participants were biased towards the tactile modality following each of the picture types. Results: Participants in the high SDQ-20 group (defined by median split) showed a significant increase in tactile bias when responding to targets occurring 250 ms after the presentation of threatening body relevant stimuli only. This effect was not observed for the low SDQ-20 group. Scores on the SSAS correlated negatively with tactile bias for both threatening and neutral body-relevant stimuli at 250 ms. Conclusions: Individuals with a tendency to experience somatoform symptoms focus more on stimuli in the tactile modality immediately following exposure to threatening body relevant information. In contrast, self-reported somatosensory amplification appears to be associated with attention away from the tactile modality rather than with increased tactile focus.


Attention Body focus Cognitive Modality bias Somatoform Somatosensory amplification

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30th August, 2009, 12:46:37
Last modified by:
Brown, Richard
Last modified:
3rd October, 2012, 12:27:36

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