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According to Attentional Control Theory (Eysenck et al., 2007) anxiety impairs the inhibition function of working memory by increasing the influence of stimulus-driven processes over efficient top-down control. We investigated the neural correlates of impaired inhibitory control in anxiety using an antisaccade task. Low- and high-anxious participants performed anti- and prosaccade tasks and electrophysiological activity was recorded. Consistent with previous research high-anxious individuals had longer antisaccade latencies in response to the to-be-inhibited target, compared with low-anxious individuals. Central to our predictions, high-anxious individuals showed lower ERP activity, at frontocentral and central recording sites, than low anxious individuals, in the period immediately prior to onset of the to-be-inhibited target on correct antisaccade trials. Our findings indicate that anxiety interferes with the efficient recruitment of top-down mechanisms required for the suppression of prepotent responses. Implications are discussed within current models of attentional control in anxiety (Bishop, 2009; Eysenck et al., 2007).

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1146 - 1153


Adult, Analysis of Variance, Anxiety, Attention, Brain Mapping, Cerebral Cortex, Electroencephalography, Evoked Potentials, Female, Humans, Inhibition, Psychological, Male, Reaction Time, Saccades, Young Adult