The impact of rumination on internal attention switching

Barbara Chuen Yee Lo, Shun Lau, Sing Hang Cheung, Nicholas B. Allen

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


The present study explored the nature of attention control problems associated with ruminative traits. Experiment 1 aimed to establish the validity of a modified mental counting task that assesses individuals' ability to switch attention between internal mental representations. Reaction time and brain activity (event related potential; ERP) measures were examined, and results showed that the task was sensitive to internal attention switching effects. Experiment 2 assessed how the relationship between ruminative tendencies and switching performance differs when participants attend to neutral versus affective materials under different mood states. Although reaction-time analysis suggested that both mood condition and stimulus affectivity were not significant in altering this association, ERP analysis suggested otherwise. A significant task type×trait rumination × mood condition effect was found for switch-related ERP responses, whereby high ruminators were found to deploy more neuronal resources when switching affective materials in sad mood state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-223
Number of pages15
JournalCognition and Emotion
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Attention switching
  • Event-related potentials
  • Mood effects
  • Rumination
  • Stimulus affectivity
  • Switch costs


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