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Acute itch induces attentional avoidance of itch-related information

Etty, Sarah; George, David N.; van Laarhoven, Antoinette; Holle, Henning


Sarah Etty

Antoinette van Laarhoven

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Dr Henning Holle
Reader in Psychology / Leader of Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience group (


Attention is known to modulate itch intensity. In contrast, the reverse relationship, i.e. the degree to which the presence of an acute itch affects attention, is currently not well understood. The aims of this study were to investigate whether acute itch induces an attentional bias towards or away from visual itch-related stimuli, and if so, whether it occurs in the early or later stages of processing. A volunteer sample of 60 healthy individuals were subjected to a skin prick (either histamine or placebo), followed by completion of a spatial cueing paradigm using itch-related and neutral words as cues, in order to obtain reaction time estimates of attentional bias. The results suggest that experience of acute itch induces attentional avoidance of visual itch threats. This attentional avoidance occurs at a later processing stage in the form of facilitated disengagement of attention from itch and/or delayed disengagement from neutral information.


Etty, S., George, D. N., van Laarhoven, A., & Holle, H. (2022). Acute itch induces attentional avoidance of itch-related information. Acta Dermato-Venereologica, 102, adv00691.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 9, 2022
Online Publication Date Mar 31, 2022
Publication Date Apr 7, 2022
Deposit Date Mar 11, 2022
Publicly Available Date Apr 11, 2022
Journal Acta dermato-venereologica
Print ISSN 0001-5555
Electronic ISSN 1651-2057
Publisher Society for Publication of Acta Dermato-Venereologica
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 102
Pages adv00691
Keywords Attention; Pruritus; Histaminergic; Agonist
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Copyright Statement
Published by Medical Journals Sweden, on behalf of the Society for Publication of Acta Dermato-Venereologica. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (

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