Theories have independently postulated that worry (i.e., the core symptom of Generalized Anxiety Disorder) results in decreased attentional control, and that further is associated with emotional dysregulation or maladaptive/inflexible stress responses. However, few studies have evaluated the intersection of these two deficits associated with worry. Because autonomic arousal influences attentional control, different levels of arousal may lead to different emotionally dependent associations between worry and attentional control, as well. The current study investigated the relationship between worry and neural indicators of attentional control (i.e., the residual N2) and whether respiratory sinus arrhythmia moderated this relationship. The results indicated that there was an interaction such that under low levels of Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia (RSA), increased worry was associated with increased residual N2 scores. However, under high levels of RSA the results showed an inverse relationship. These results suggest that worry is linked to increased attentional control for those with high autonomic flexibility, but decreased attentional control among those with low autonomic flexibility, indicating that increased RSA may be a protective factor for those with worry.
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||Psychology and Neuroscience|
|State||Published - Mar 2020|
- Respiratory sinus arrhythmia
- Trait worry