Inhibitory control and symptom severity in late life generalized anxiety disorder.
ABSTRACT Contemporary models of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) posit that worry functions as an avoidance strategy. During worry, individuals inhibit threat-related imagery in order to minimize autonomic reactivity to phobic topics. This conceptualization of worry suggests a role for the executive system in exerting top-down inhibitory control (IC) over threat processing. We tested the hypothesis that better performance on an IC task would be associated with greater severity of worry and concomitant anxious mood. Forty-three older adults (age 60-77) with GAD completed the Stroop color word task and a battery of self-report symptom measures. Fifteen of the GAD patients were paired with age- and sex-matched non-anxious controls. In the full GAD sample, age-normed t-scores of Stroop performance were positively correlated with measures of worry and trait anxiety, but not anxious arousal or depression. Positive relationships between IC and symptom severity were upheld in the smaller subsample of GAD patients, while in the matched control group, no relationships between Stroop scores and clinical measures were observed. Patients and controls did not differ in Stroop performance. In the context of a disorder-specific tendency to make maladaptive use of executive functions, better IC may be associated with more severe symptomatology.
SourceAvailable from: mss3.libraries.rutgers.edu
[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Prior findings are mixed regarding the presence and direction of threat-related interference biases in social anxiety. The current study examined general inhibitory control (IC), measured by the classic colour-word Stroop, as a moderator of the relationship between both threat interference biases [indexed by the emotional Stroop (e-Stroop)] and several social anxiety indicators. High socially anxious undergraduate students (N = 159) completed the emotional and colour-word Stroop tasks, followed by an anxiety-inducing speech task. Participants completed measures of trait social anxiety, state anxiety before and during the speech, negative task-interfering cognitions during the speech and overall self-evaluation of speech performance. Speech duration was used to measure behavioural avoidance. In line with hypotheses, IC moderated the relationship between e-Stroop bias and every anxiety indicator (with the exception of behavioural avoidance), such that greater social-threat interference was associated with higher anxiety among those with weak IC, whereas lesser social-threat interference was associated with higher anxiety among those with strong IC. Implications for the theory and treatment of threat interference biases in socially anxious individuals are discussed.Cognition and Emotion 06/2014; 26:1-13. DOI:10.1080/02699931.2014.931275 · 2.52 Impact Factor
[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Drawing on a gender roles theory of emotion regulation, we examined the specific facets of emotion regulation difficulties through which higher-order cognitive abilities may be related to anxiety. Participants (N = 225) completed self-report measures of emotion regulation difficulties and anxiety, and were administered neuropsychological tests assessing abstract reasoning and inhibition. PROCESS (Hayes, 2012) was used to estimate the direct and indirect effects of both inhibition and abstract reasoning on anxiety symptoms, with six dimensions of emotion regulation difficulties serving as multiple mediators operating in parallel. Results suggest that the relation between higher-order cognitive abilities and anxiety operate through distinct, sex-dependent emotion dysregulation mechanisms. For females, higher levels of inhibition and abstract thinking were associated with poorer clarity of emotions, which in turn, was associated with higher levels of anxiety symptoms. As such, over-attentiveness to, or over-analysis of, emotions may be particularly detrimental among females who have relatively higher abstract reasoning abilities. For males, higher inhibition was associated with greater perceived effectiveness in regulating negative emotions, which in turn, was associated with lower levels of anxiety symptoms. This finding suggests that mood regulation expectancies may be particularly important in understanding the pathogenesis of anxiety in males.Personality and Individual Differences 08/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.paid.2014.07.009 · 1.86 Impact Factor