Impaired Attentional Disengagement from Stimuli Matching the Contents of Working Memory in Social Anxiety
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Although many cognitive models in anxiety propose that an impaired top-down control enhances the processing of task-irrelevant stimuli, few studies have paid attention to task-irrelevant stimuli under a cognitive load task. In the present study, we investigated the effects of the working memory load on attention to task-irrelevant stimuli in trait social anxiety. The results showed that as trait social anxiety increased, participants were unable to disengage from task-irrelevant stimuli identical to the memory cue under low and high working memory loads. Impaired attentional disengagement was positively correlated with trait social anxiety. This impaired attentional disengagement was related to trait social anxiety, but not state anxiety. Our findings suggest that socially anxious people have difficulty in disengaging attention from a taskirrelevant memory cue owing to an impaired top-down control under a working memory load.
This work was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for JSPS Fellowship (10J06078).
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© 2012 Moriya, Sugiura. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Graduate School of Integrated Arts and Sciences