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Does high state anxiety exacerbate distractor interference?

Roberts, JW, Lawrence, GP, Welsh, TN and Wilson, MR (2021) Does high state anxiety exacerbate distractor interference? Human Movement Science, 76. ISSN 0167-9457

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Attentional Control Theory states that anxiety can cause attention to be allocated to irrelevant sources of information by hindering the ability to control attention and focus on the information that matters. In a separate line of inquiry, action-centred views of attention state that non-target distractors involuntarily activate response codes that may cause interference with target-directed movements (distractor interference effect). Due to the proposed negative effects of anxiety on attentional control, we examined whether anxiety could also modulate distractor interference. Participants executed target-directed aiming movements to one of three targets with the potential of a distractor being presented at near or far locations. Distractors were presented at different times with respect to the target presentation in order to explore the excitatory (0, -100 ms) and inhibitory (-850 ms) processing of the distractor. As a broad indication of the effect of anxiety, the analysis of no distractor trials indicated a lower proportion of time and displacement to reach peak velocity under high compared to low anxiety conditions. Meanwhile, the typical excitatory influence of the distractors located near, compared to far, at a short distractor-onset asynchrony was found in movement time and overall response time. However, this distractor excitation was even greater under high compared to low anxiety in the reaction time component of the response. These findings broadly implicate the attentional control perspective, but they further indicate an influence of anxiety on the excitation rather than inhibition of responses.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 09 Engineering, 11 Medical and Health Sciences, 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC1200 Sports Medicine
Divisions: Sport & Exercise Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier
Date Deposited: 16 Feb 2021 12:42
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2022 00:50
DOI or ID number: 10.1016/j.humov.2021.102773
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/14470
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