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Uncovering Neural Correlates of Anxious-Apprehension in Anticipation of Rewards

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Anxiety disorders are the most common group of mental illnesses in the United States and affect over 15% of the population. Prior work utilizing electroencephalogram (EEG) to investigate event-related potentials (ERPs) from the scalp has shown success in isolating certain neural correlates related to increased risk for developing anxiety disorders. However, most of these studies investigate error- and threat-related processing. Far fewer have explored potential relationships between anxiety and abnormal reward-related ERPs. The relationship between anxiety and the stimulus-preceding negativity (SPN), an ERP directly preceding reward feedback, was investigated here. The SPN is a negative deflection that reflects increases in attentional and perceptual systems during the anticipation of an upcoming stimulus, such as reward feedback. Results reveal that anxious-apprehension was related to a blunted SPN reflecting inefficient feedback anticipation, likely due to intrusive and uncontrollable cognitive worry. The current findings of this study illuminate how decision-making and reward-anticipation are affected by a specific set of cognitive symptoms seen in anxiety disorders.

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  • 06/13/2018
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