Threat-of-shock decreases emotional interference on affective stroop performance in healthy controls and anxiety patients

Tiffany R. Lago, Karina S. Blair, Gabriella Alvarez, Amanda Thongdarong, James R. Blair, Monique Ernst, Christian Grillon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Patients with anxiety disorders suffer from impaired concentration, potentially as a result of stronger emotional interference on attention. Studies using behavioural measures provide conflicting support for this hypothesis. Elevated state anxiety may be necessary to reliably document differences in emotional interference in patients versus healthy controls. The present study examines the effect of experimentally induced state anxiety (threat-of-shock) on attention interference by emotional stimuli. Anxiety patients (n = 36) and healthy controls (n = 32) completed a modified affective Stroop task during periods of safety and threat-of-shock. Results indicated that in both patients and controls, threat decreased negative, but not positive or neutral, emotional interference on attention (both p <.001). This finding supports a threat-related narrowing of attention whereby a certain level of anxiety decreases task-irrelevant processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2019

Keywords

  • anxiety disorder
  • attention control
  • cognition
  • state anxiety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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