Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

We investigated the neural correlates of cognitive effort/pre-target preparation (Contingent Negative Variation activity; CNV) in anxiety using a mixed antisaccade task that manipulated the interval between offset of instructional cue and onset of target (CTI). According to attentional control theory (Eysenck et al., 2007) we predicted that anxiety should result in increased levels of compensatory effort, as indicated by greater frontal CNV, to maintain comparable levels of performance under competing task demands. Our results showed that anxiety resulted in faster antisaccade latencies during medium compared with short and long CTIs. Accordingly, high-anxious individuals compared with low-anxious individuals showed greater levels of CNV activity at frontal sites during medium CTI suggesting that they exerted greater cognitive effort and invested more attentional resources in preparation for the task goal. Our results are the first to demonstrate the neural correlates of processing efficiency and compensatory effort in anxiety and are discussed within the framework of attentional control theory.

Original publication




Journal article


Biol Psychol

Publication Date





337 - 348


Adolescent, Adult, Analysis of Variance, Anxiety, Attention, Brain Mapping, Cognition Disorders, Contingent Negative Variation, Electroencephalography, Evoked Potentials, Visual, Female, Functional Laterality, Humans, Male, Photic Stimulation, Reaction Time, Saccades, Time Factors, Young Adult