State anxiety in healthy people can increase their vulnerability to neutral but not to unpleasant distraction in working memory

Journal article

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Publication Details

Author list: García-Pacios J
Publication year: 2014
Volume number: 25
Issue number: 3
Start page: 181
End page: 185
Number of pages: 5
Languages: English-Great Britain (EN-GB)


Unpleasant irrelevant events are known to negatively affect our capacity
to maintain neutral but taskrelevant information in working memory
(WM). In parallel, anxiety biases our attentional responses to those
stimuli that may be potentially threatening in order to adaptively
enhance their detection and assessment. In this study, we investigated
differences between healthy anxious and non-anxious volunteers while
they performed a WM task in which neutral and unpleasant pictures were
presented as distractors. Our results revealed that state anxiety could
increase the interfering effect of neutral but not unpleasant
distractors. These findings are discussed in regard to previous studies
suggesting that anxiety and acute stress can decrease the level of
specificity in the vigilance mechanism that serves to optimize the
detection and evaluation of threats.


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Last updated on 2019-13-08 at 00:45