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The role of sustained attention toward threatening stimuli in fearlessness about death: An ERP study




Fox, Hailey

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Psychological Sciences

Restriction Status


Restriction Type

Auburn University Users

Date Available



Given that suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, it is critical to identify those most at risk for suicide. Prominent theories of suicide and empirical evidence suggest that dysregulated threat reactivity is associated with capability for suicide. The present study examined the relationships between neural indices of sustained attention to threat (late positive potential [LPP]) and attentional control (P300) with suicide capability and risk factors for suicide. A sample (n = 61) drawn from two studies recruiting healthy participants and those at elevated risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors completed self-report measures about suicide capability and suicide risk as well as a computerized task while electrocortical data were collected. Results did not support a relation between indices of attention to threat (i.e., Δthreat LPP) or reward (i.e., Δpositive LPP) with suicide capability, even among those with elevations in suicide ideation or other suicide risk factors. Overall, these findings suggest that further research is needed to unravel the complex relationships among sustained attention to emotional images and suicide risk variables.