ISSN 2043-8087
Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
 Volume 3, Issue 3, 455-469, 2012
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Difficulty Disengaging from Threat in Anxiety: Preliminary Evidence for Delayed Response Execution

Ryan B. Matlow (a)(b), David E. Gard (b), David J. Berg (c)
(a) Department of Psychology, University of Denver, Denver, CO, USA
(b) Psychology Department, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA, USA
(c) Neuroscience Graduate Program, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Volume 3, Issue 3, 2012, Pages 455-469

High anxiety is associated with an attentional bias for threatening information that appears to be the result of difficulty disengaging attention from such stimuli. However, it is yet unknown whether difficulty disengaging, often detected using the probe detection task, results from delayed shifting of visual attention or from interference in executing a behavioral response. The present study tested this distinction by measuring reaction times and eye movements of 30 high trait anxious (HTA) and 28 low trait anxious (LTA) individuals during completion of a probe detection task involving 500 ms presentation of threatening, positive, and neutral images. Difficulty disengaging was detected in the HTA group only for both positive and threatening images. Eye movement results did not show that HTA individuals experience delays in shifting visual attention away from an affective stimulus, thus providing preliminary evidence that difficulty disengaging in the probe detection task is likely a result of delays in decision-making and/or manual response execution.

Table of Contents
  Pictorial stimuli.
  Probe detection task.
  Eye movement monitoring.
  EOG calibration and measurement.
 Data analysis plan
 Group characteristics
 Reaction time analysis
  Data preparation.
  Overall effects.
 Eye Movement analysis
  Data preparation.
  Overall effects.

Correspondence to
Ryan B. Matlow, Department of Psychology, University of Denver, 2155 S. Race St., Denver, CO 80208, USA.

anxiety, attention, threat, eye movements, difficulty disengaging

Received 8 Sep 2011; Revised 15 Feb 2012; Accepted 18 Feb 2012; In Press 1 Jul 2012

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