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Trait susceptibility to worry modulates the effects of cognitive load on cognitive control: an ERP study.

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Max Owens

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According to the predictions of attentional control theory (ACT) of anxiety (Eysenck, Derakshan, Santos, & Calvo, 2007), worry is a central feature of anxiety that interferes with the ability to inhibit distracting information necessary for successful task performance. However, it is unclear how such cognitive control deficits are modulated by task demands and by the emotionality of the distractors. A sample of 31 participants (25 female) completed a novel flanker task with emotional and neutral distractors under low and high-cognitive-load conditions. The negative-going N2 event-related potential was measured to index participants’ level of top-down resource allocation in the inhibition of distractors under high- and low-load conditions. Results showed N2 amplitudes were larger under high- compared with low-load conditions. In addition, under high but not low load, trait worry was associated with greater N2 amplitudes. Our findings support ACT predictions that trait worry adversely affects goal-directed behavior, and is associated with greater recruitment of cognitive resources to inhibit the impact of distracting information under conditions in which cognitive resources are taxed.


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American Psychological Association

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.