Poster Session E, Monday, March 25, 2:30 – 4:30 pm, Pacific Concourse
Attentional Bias Toward Threat in Adolescents with Different Anxiety Levels
Siqi Chen1; 1Texas A&M University
Anxiety is an aversive emotional and motivational state occurring in threatening circumstances (Rachman, 2004). Human beings respond to anxious situations by releasing hormones, such as adrenalin and glucocorticoids, which instantaneously increased heart rate and energy level to cope with a range of different conditions and avoid harmful situations. However, modern times of prolonged stress has caused physical and mental afflictions (Sapolsky, 2004). Adolescence is a critical transition period from childhood to adulthood and is often characterized by emotional instability (Brenning et al., 2015). This period is also a time of increased incidence of anxiety, depression and other psychiatric disorders. Motivated by the increased anxiety problems in adolescents, this study examined how attentional sub-processes contribute to anxiety by investigating neural mechanisms using Electroencephalography (EEG) technology. An attentional blink paradigm was used to investigate the individual difference of attentional sub-processes when exposed to threat-related stimuli. Results suggested that adolescents with higher levels of anxiety tend to have better performance in negative emotional trials compared to adolescents with lower levels of anxiety. At a neural level, adolescents with high levels of anxiety process emotional threat stimuli with more attentional resources in terms of orienting and executive control of attention. Adolescents with higher levels of anxiety were more likely to experience cognitive conflict regardless of the type of stimuli. A later cognitive process difference of threat stimuli was observed between adolescents with different anxiety level. This study aims to contribute to current adolescent’s anxiety intervention and prevention studies. Implications for education are discussed.
Topic Area: ATTENTION: Other