The influence of state worry on covert selective attention and working memory for threatening stimuli: An ERP study.

Evan J. White, De Mond M. Grant, Danielle L. Taylor, Jacob D. Kraft, Kristen E. Frosio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: Theoretical predictions suggest that pathological worry arises from imbalanced cognitive control processes. Empirical literature has demonstrated a relationship between worry and maladaptive cognitive functioning. However, to our knowledge, no study has examined the effects of induced worry on neural indicators of attention. This precludes causal conclusions about the role of worry in cognitive functioning and the examination of the relationship between trait and state worry. Addressing this gap enables testing theoretical predictions that suggests chronic (i.e., high trait) worry is associated with differences in cognitive functioning during acute (i.e., state) worry. Method: The current study examined the influence of state worry, trait worry, and attention focusing on selective attention and working memory using event-related potentials. Results: Findings indicate that the influence of state worry on attention and working memory is modulated by trait worry and trait attention control ability. Conclusion: Results indicate that attentional focusing may play a protective role in maladaptive cognitive consequences of state and trait worry. Furthermore, the current study suggests that state worry is associated with reduced covert selective attention. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved) Public Significance Statement: This study provides evidence that an individual’s ability to focus their attention may mitigate cognitive impairments associated with problematic levels of worry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-109
Number of pages16
JournalPsychology and Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • attention control
  • CDAp
  • N2pc
  • state worry


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