Anxiety impairs inhibitory control but not volitional action control
Ansari TL., Derakshan N.
The antisaccade task requires the inhibition of a reflexive saccade toward an abrupt peripheral stimulus, and the rapid generation of a saccade to its mirror position. Accumulating evidence (see Derakshan & Eysenck, 2009) indicates that anxiety results in longer antisaccade latencies, supporting the prediction that anxiety impairs inhibition and efficient top-down attention regulation. However, any observed variance in antisaccade performance permits interpretations of inhibition and saccade generation, questioning direct inferences about these processes in isolation. The current study used a "delayed" antisaccade task where participants were instructed to maintain central fixation despite the onset of the abrupt stimulus and only generate an antisaccade upon hearing a tone. Here, impaired performance reflects a weakness in volitional saccade generation as the simultaneous need to inhibit is eliminated by the delay. High-anxious individuals exhibited comparable antisaccade latencies to low-anxious ones when the delay was introduced suggesting that longer antisaccade latencies previously observed in the high anxious cannot be attributed to impairments in volitional saccade generation, i.e., action control. The findings suggest that anxiety affects inhibition but not volitional action generation. © 2009 Psychology Press.