The effect of induced anxiety on cognition: Threat of shock enhances aversive processing in healthy individuals

Oliver J. Robinson, Allison M. Letkiewicz, Cassie Overstreet, Monique Ernst, Christian Grillon, M. Ernst, C. Grillon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Individuals with anxiety disorders demonstrate altered cognitive performance including (1) cognitive biases towards negative stimuli (affective biases) and (2) increased cognitive rigidity (e.g., impaired conflict adaptation) on affective Stroop tasks. Threat of electric shock is frequently used to induce anxiety in healthy individuals, but the extent to which this manipulation mimics the cognitive impairment seen in anxiety disorders is unclear. In this study, 31 healthy individuals completed an affective Stroop task under safe and threat-of-shock conditions. We showed that threat (1) enhanced aversive processing and abolished a positive affective bias but (2) had no effect on conflict adaptation. Threat of shock thus partially models the effects of anxiety disorders on affective Stroop tasks. We suggest that the affective state of anxiety-which is common to both threat and anxiety disorders-modulates the neural inhibition of subcortical aversive processing, whilst pathologies unique to anxiety disorders modulate conflict adaptation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-227
Number of pages11
JournalCognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience
Volume11
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2011

Keywords

  • Affective bias
  • Anxiety
  • BIS/BAS
  • Conflict adaptation
  • Resilience
  • Threat of shock

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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