ISSN 2043-8087
Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
 Volume 4, Issue 4, 420-434, 2013
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Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Relations between Working Memory Performance and Worry

Keith Bredemeier and Howard Berenbaum
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Volume 4, Issue 4, 2013, Pages 420-434

Whereas past theorizing has posited that worrying disrupts working memory, the present study aimed to explore the idea that working memory deficits may contribute to the tendency to worry, and perhaps the etiology of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). College students (N = 198) completed questionnaire measures of worry and anhedonic depression, a clinical interview to assess symptoms of GAD, and two working memory tasks: the n-back task and the operation span (OSPAN) task. Also, a subset of these participants (n = 38) reported their levels of worry and anhedonic depression during the past week again at the end of the academic semester. Initial levels of worry and symptoms of GAD were negatively associated with n-back (but not OSPAN) performance. Furthermore, n-back performance predicted levels of recent worry at follow-up, even after controlling for baseline worry. In contrast, anhedonic depression was not significantly associated with task performance (cross-sectionally or prospectively). Potential implications of these findings for theories and treatment of worry are discussed.

Table of Contents
Self-report questionnaires.
Diagnostic Interview.
Working memory tasks.

Correspondence to
Keith Bredemeier, Butler Hospital, 345 Blackstone Boulevard, Potter Building, 3rd Floor, Providence, RI 02906.

worry, working memory, generalized anxiety disorder, attentional control

Received 19 Sep 2012; Revised 29 Apr 2013; Accepted 17 May 2013; In Press 16 Oct 2013

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