Threat-evoked anxiety disrupts spatial working memory performance

an attentional account

Aureliu Lavric, Gina Rippon, Jeremy R. Gray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

It is proposed that threat-evoked anxiety and spatial Working Memory (WM) rely on a common visuospatial attention mechanism. A prediction of this hypothesis is that spatial but not verbal WM should be disrupted in conditions of threat anxiety. Participants performed verbal and spatial n-back WM tasks in the presence or absence of threat of shock (shocks were not delivered). The presence of anxiety was assessed via heart rate recordings and self-report. Both measures clearly distinguished between WM blocks associated with threat of shock (Threat) and blocks, in which threat was absent (Safety). Performance on the spatial WM task was impaired in Threat relative to Safety. Furthermore, the more anxiety participants reported and the higher their heart rate in Threat compared to Safety, the more impaired was their spatial WM performance. This effect was not observed for verbal WM. The results indicate selective disruption of spatial WM performance by threat-evoked anxiety, interpreted in terms of more overlap in visuospatial attention between anxiety and spatial WM vs. anxiety and verbal WM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489-504
Number of pages16
JournalCognitive Therapy and Research
Volume27
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2003

Fingerprint

Short-Term Memory
Anxiety
Shock
Safety
Heart Rate
Spatial Memory
Self Report

Keywords

  • anxiety
  • threat
  • verbal and spatial working memory
  • visuospatial attention

Cite this

Lavric, Aureliu ; Rippon, Gina ; Gray, Jeremy R. / Threat-evoked anxiety disrupts spatial working memory performance : an attentional account. In: Cognitive Therapy and Research. 2003 ; Vol. 27, No. 5. pp. 489-504.
@article{512776de720d4fd68d8df25401907177,
title = "Threat-evoked anxiety disrupts spatial working memory performance: an attentional account",
abstract = "It is proposed that threat-evoked anxiety and spatial Working Memory (WM) rely on a common visuospatial attention mechanism. A prediction of this hypothesis is that spatial but not verbal WM should be disrupted in conditions of threat anxiety. Participants performed verbal and spatial n-back WM tasks in the presence or absence of threat of shock (shocks were not delivered). The presence of anxiety was assessed via heart rate recordings and self-report. Both measures clearly distinguished between WM blocks associated with threat of shock (Threat) and blocks, in which threat was absent (Safety). Performance on the spatial WM task was impaired in Threat relative to Safety. Furthermore, the more anxiety participants reported and the higher their heart rate in Threat compared to Safety, the more impaired was their spatial WM performance. This effect was not observed for verbal WM. The results indicate selective disruption of spatial WM performance by threat-evoked anxiety, interpreted in terms of more overlap in visuospatial attention between anxiety and spatial WM vs. anxiety and verbal WM.",
keywords = "anxiety, threat, verbal and spatial working memory, visuospatial attention",
author = "Aureliu Lavric and Gina Rippon and Gray, {Jeremy R.}",
year = "2003",
month = "10",
doi = "10.1023/A:1026300619569",
language = "English",
volume = "27",
pages = "489--504",
journal = "Cognitive Therapy and Research",
issn = "0147-5916",
publisher = "Springer",
number = "5",

}

Threat-evoked anxiety disrupts spatial working memory performance : an attentional account. / Lavric, Aureliu; Rippon, Gina; Gray, Jeremy R.

In: Cognitive Therapy and Research, Vol. 27, No. 5, 10.2003, p. 489-504.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Threat-evoked anxiety disrupts spatial working memory performance

T2 - an attentional account

AU - Lavric, Aureliu

AU - Rippon, Gina

AU - Gray, Jeremy R.

PY - 2003/10

Y1 - 2003/10

N2 - It is proposed that threat-evoked anxiety and spatial Working Memory (WM) rely on a common visuospatial attention mechanism. A prediction of this hypothesis is that spatial but not verbal WM should be disrupted in conditions of threat anxiety. Participants performed verbal and spatial n-back WM tasks in the presence or absence of threat of shock (shocks were not delivered). The presence of anxiety was assessed via heart rate recordings and self-report. Both measures clearly distinguished between WM blocks associated with threat of shock (Threat) and blocks, in which threat was absent (Safety). Performance on the spatial WM task was impaired in Threat relative to Safety. Furthermore, the more anxiety participants reported and the higher their heart rate in Threat compared to Safety, the more impaired was their spatial WM performance. This effect was not observed for verbal WM. The results indicate selective disruption of spatial WM performance by threat-evoked anxiety, interpreted in terms of more overlap in visuospatial attention between anxiety and spatial WM vs. anxiety and verbal WM.

AB - It is proposed that threat-evoked anxiety and spatial Working Memory (WM) rely on a common visuospatial attention mechanism. A prediction of this hypothesis is that spatial but not verbal WM should be disrupted in conditions of threat anxiety. Participants performed verbal and spatial n-back WM tasks in the presence or absence of threat of shock (shocks were not delivered). The presence of anxiety was assessed via heart rate recordings and self-report. Both measures clearly distinguished between WM blocks associated with threat of shock (Threat) and blocks, in which threat was absent (Safety). Performance on the spatial WM task was impaired in Threat relative to Safety. Furthermore, the more anxiety participants reported and the higher their heart rate in Threat compared to Safety, the more impaired was their spatial WM performance. This effect was not observed for verbal WM. The results indicate selective disruption of spatial WM performance by threat-evoked anxiety, interpreted in terms of more overlap in visuospatial attention between anxiety and spatial WM vs. anxiety and verbal WM.

KW - anxiety

KW - threat

KW - verbal and spatial working memory

KW - visuospatial attention

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=3242816061&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023%2FA%3A1026300619569

U2 - 10.1023/A:1026300619569

DO - 10.1023/A:1026300619569

M3 - Article

VL - 27

SP - 489

EP - 504

JO - Cognitive Therapy and Research

JF - Cognitive Therapy and Research

SN - 0147-5916

IS - 5

ER -