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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychiatry | doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00780

Depressive symptoms in late pregnancy disrupt attentional processing of negative-positive emotion: An eye-movement study

 Weina Tang1, Ciqing Bao1, Ling Xu1,  Jie Zhu1,  Wenqian Feng1, Wenmiao Zhang2, Cong Lin1, Lan Chen1, Qianqian Cheng1, Penghao Ding1, Meixi Zhou2, Ying Bao2,  Ke Zhao1*,  Xin Yu1* and  Jincai He3*
  • 1School of Mental Health, Wenzhou Medical University, China
  • 2First Affiliated Hospital of Wenzhou Medical University, China
  • 3Department of Neurology, First Affiliated Hospital of Wenzhou Medical University, China

This study investigated biases for negative-positive information in component processes of visual attention (initial shift vs. maintenance of gaze) among women in late pregnancy with or without depressive symptoms. Eye movements were recorded while participants viewed a series of picture pairs depicting negative, positive, and neutral scenes. Initial orienting (latency and percentage of first- fixation) and gaze duration were computed. Compared with neutral pictures, the group with major depressive symptoms (MDS) were less able to sense the positive emotion-related pictures and were over-responsive to negative emotion-related pictures. The group with suspicious depressive symptoms (SDS) had an attention bias toward both positive and negative emotion-related pictures. The group with no depressive symptoms (NDS) had an attention bias toward positive emotion-related pictures and had an initial attention avoidance tendency for negative emotion related pictures. The initial gaze direction bias score for negative emotion-related pictures was positively correlated with the severity of depressive symptoms. Therefore, women with a risk of perinatal depression have a significant bias toward negative stimuli. Hypervigilant emotion processing during pregnancy may increase a woman’s the susceptibility to depression during late pregnancy. Attention away from negative information or attention towards positive information may provide a way of buffering emotional responses.

Keywords: Attention bias, Depression, eye-movement, emotional pictures, Pregnancy

Received: 18 Mar 2019; Accepted: 30 Sep 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Tang, Bao, Xu, Zhu, Feng, Zhang, Lin, Chen, Cheng, Ding, Zhou, Bao, Zhao, Yu and He. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence:
Dr. Ke Zhao, School of Mental Health, Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, China, cocozk1986@163.com
Prof. Xin Yu, School of Mental Health, Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, China, yuxin@bjmu.edu.cn
Prof. Jincai He, Department of Neurology, First Affiliated Hospital of Wenzhou Medical University, Wen zhou, China, hjc@wmu.edu.cn