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    The role of trait anxiety in attention and memory-related biases to threat: an event-related potential study

    Berggren, Nick and Eimer, Martin (2021) The role of trait anxiety in attention and memory-related biases to threat: an event-related potential study. Psychophysiology 58 (3), e13742. ISSN 0048-5772.

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    Threat-related information strongly competes for attentional selection, and can subsequently be more strongly represented within visual working memory. This is particularly the case for individuals reporting high trait anxious personality. The present study examined the role of anxiety in both attention and memory-related interactions with threat. We employed a hybrid working memory / visual search task, with participants pre-selected for low and high anxious personality traits. They selected and memorized an emotional face (angry or happy) appearing together with a neutral face in encode displays. Following a delay period, they matched the identity of the memorized face to a probe display item. Event-related markers of attentional selection (N2pc components) and memory maintenance during the delay period (i.e., CDA) were measured. Selection biases towards angry faces were observed within both encode and probe displays, evidenced by earlier and larger N2pcs. A similar threat-related bias was also found during working memory maintenance, with larger CDA components when angry faces were stored. High anxious individuals showed large selection biases for angry faces at encoding. For low anxious individuals, this bias was smaller but still significant. In contrast, only high anxious individuals showed larger CDA components for angry faces. These results suggest that threat biases in attentional selection is modulated by trait anxiety, and that threat biases within working memory may only be present for high anxious individuals. These findings highlight the key role of individual differences in trait anxiety on threat-related biases in visual processing, especially at the level of working memory maintenance.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: This is the peer reviewed version of the article, which has been published in final form at the link above. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Anxiety, Threat, Visual Search, Visual Working Memory, Anger Superiority Effect; Event-related Potentials
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Nick Berggren
    Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2021 07:35
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:05


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