Trait anxiety and the alignment of attentional bias with controllability of danger
- 393 Downloads
Attentional bias to threat cues is most adaptive when the dangers they signal can readily be controlled by timely action. This study examined whether heightened trait anxiety is associated with impaired alignment between attentional bias to threat and variation in the controllability of danger, and whether this is moderated by executive functioning. Participants completed a task in which threat cues signalled money loss and an aversive noise burst (the danger). In ‘high control’ blocks, attending to the threat cue offered a high chance of avoiding this danger. In ‘low control’ blocks, attending to the threat cue offered little control over the danger. The task yielded measures of attentional monitoring for threat, and attentional orienting to threat. Results indicated all participants showed greater attentional orienting to threat cues in high control relative to low control blocks (indicative of proper alignment), however, high trait-anxious participants showed no difference in attentional monitoring for threat between block types, whereas low trait-anxious participants did. This effect was moderated by N-Back scores. These results suggest heightened trait anxiety may be associated with impaired alignment of attentional monitoring for threat cues, and that such alignment deficit may be attenuated by high executive functioning.
Preparation of this paper was supported by Australian Research Council Grants FL170100167 and DP170104533. EF and SP were supported by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013)/ERC Grant agreement no: . The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
- Bar-Haim, Y., Lamy, D., Pergamin, L., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., & van Ijzendoorn, M. H. (2007). Threat-related attentional bias in anxious and nonanxious individuals: A meta-analytic study. Psychological Bulletin, 133(1), 1–24. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.133.1.1.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Chambers, J. A., Power, K. G., & Durham, R. C. (2004). The relationship between trait vulnerability and anxiety and depressive diagnoses at long-term follow-up of generalized anxiety disorder. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 18(5), 587–607. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.janxdis.2003.09.001.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Clarke, P. J. F., & MacLeod, C. (2013). The impact of anxiety on cognitive task performance. In P. Arnett (Ed.), Secondary influences on neuropsychological test performance (pp. 93–116). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Clarke, P. J. F., Branson, S., Salemink, E., Van Bockstaele, B., Chen, N. T. M., MacLeod, C., et al. (2017). Attention bias modification is more effective under working memory load. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 57, 25–31. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbtep.2017.02.003.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Diamond, A. (2013). Executive functions. Annual Review of Psychology, 64, 135–168. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-113011-143750.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Diamond, A. (2013). Executive functions. Annual Review Psychology, 64, 135–168. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-113011-143750.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hayes, A. F. (2012). PROCESS: A versatile computational tool for observed variable mediation, moderation, and conditional process modeling. http://www.afhayes.com/public/process2012.pdf. Accessed 21 Aug 2018.
- Hayes, A. F. (2013). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: A regression-based approach. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Hobbs, R. J. (1990). Noise and vibration. In J. Ridley (Ed.), Safety at work. London: Butterworth-Heinemann.Google Scholar
- Jaeggi, S. M., Studer-Luethi, B., Buschkuehl, M., Su, Y.-F., Jonides, J., & Perrig, W. J. (2010). The relationship between n-back performance and matrix reasoning—Implications for training and transfer. Intelligence, 38(6), 625–635. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intell.2010.09.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Kappenman, E. S., Farrens, J. L., Luck, S. J., & Hajcak Proudfit, G. (2014). Behavioral and ERP measures of attentional bias to threat in the dot-probe task: Poor reliability and lack of correlation with anxiety. Frontiers in Psychology. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01368.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- MacLeod, C., & Grafton, B. (2016). Anxiety-linked attentional bias and its modification: Illustrating the importance of distinguishing processes and procedures in experimental psychopathology research. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 86, 68–86. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2016.07.005.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- MacLeod, C., Rutherford, E., Campbell, L., Ebsworthy, G., & Holker, L. (2002). Selective attention and emotional vulnerability: Assessing the causal basis of their association through the experimental manipulation of attentional bias. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 111(1), 107–123. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-843X.111.1.107.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Miyake, A., Friedman, N. P., Emerson, M. J., Witzki, A. H., Howerter, A., & Wager, T. D. (2000). The unity and diversity of executive functions and their contributions to complex “Frontal Lobe” tasks: A latent variable analysis. Cognitive Psychology, 41(1), 49–100. https://doi.org/10.1006/cogp.1999.0734.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Notebaert, L., Tilbrook, M., Clarke, P. J. F., & MacLeod, C. (2017). When a bad bias can be good: Does anxiety-linked attentional bias to threat differ as a function of danger controllability? Clinical Psychological Science, 5(3), 485–496. https://doi.org/10.1177/2167702616681295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- O’Donovan, A., Slavich, G. M., Epel, E. S., & Neylan, T. C. (2013). Exaggerated neurobiological sensitivity to threat as a mechanism linking anxiety with increased risk for diseases of aging. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 37(1), 96–108. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2010.10.013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Price, R. B., Wallace, M., Kuckertz, J. M., Amir, N., Graur, S., Cummings, L., et al. (2016). Pooled patient-level meta-analysis of children and adults completing a computer-based anxiety intervention targeting attentional bias. Clinical Psychology Review, 50, 37–49. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2016.09.009.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Spielberger, C. D., Gorsuch, R., Lushene, R., Vagg, P., & Jacobs, G. (1983). Manual for the state-trait anxiety inventory STAI (Form Y): Self-evaluation questionnaire. Alto: Consulting Psychologist Press.Google Scholar
- Wald, I., Degnan, K. A., Gorodetsky, E., Charney, D. S., Fox, N. A., Fruchter, E., et al. (2013). Attention to threats and combat-related posttraumatic stress symptoms: Prospective associations and moderation by the serotonin transporter gene. JAMA Psychiatry, 70(4), 401–408. https://doi.org/10.1001/2013.jamapsychiatry.188.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar