Sleep-related attentional bias for tired faces in insomnia: Evidence from a dot-probe paradigm.
Akram U., Beattie L., Ypsilanti A., Reidy J., Robson A., Chapman AJ., Barclay NL.
People with insomnia often display an attentional bias for sleep-specific stimuli. However, prior studies have mostly utilized sleep-related words and images, and research is yet to examine whether people with insomnia display an attentional bias for sleep-specific (i.e. tired appearing) facial stimuli. This study aimed to examine whether individuals with insomnia present an attentional bias for sleep-specific faces depicting tiredness compared to normal-sleepers. Additionally, we aimed to determine whether the presence of an attentional bias was characterized by vigilance or disengagement. Forty-one individuals who meet the DSM-5 criteria for Insomnia Disorder and 41 normal-sleepers completed a dot-probe task comprising of neutral and sleep-specific tired faces. The results demonstrated that vigilance and disengagement scores differed significantly between the insomnia and normal-sleeper groups. Specifically, individuals with insomnia displayed difficulty in both orienting to and disengaging attention from tired faces compared to normal-sleepers. Using tired facial stimuli, the current study provides novel evidence that insomnia is characterized by a sleep-related attentional bias. These outcomes support cognitive models of insomnia by suggesting that individuals with insomnia monitor tiredness in their social environment.