Category: Adult Anxiety
Introduction: Anxiety disorders are among the most commonly occurring class of mental disorders in the United States, with a lifetime prevalence of approximately 28.8%. Given the prevalence and burden associated with anxiety conditions, research aimed at developing a comprehensive understanding of the etiological processes underlying these conditions is crucial. The extant literature has implicated intolerance of uncertainty (IU), or fear of the unknown, as an important individual difference variable associated with a variety of anxiety-related disorders. Although these findings are important, research aimed at identifying psychophysiological indicators of IU is nascent. Previous work has found associations between the attentional processing event related potential (ERP) components elicited by the startle probe (N100 and P300) and IU. However, no research has examined the relationship between IU and the late positive potential (LPP), an ERP component implicated in attentional and elaborative processing. The aim of the current study was to examine the association between self-report IU and modulation of the LPP during a commonly utilized emotional picture viewing task.
Method: 134 participants underwent a baseline appointment where they completed self-report questionnaires and an emotional picture viewing task while psychophysiological data was recorded. During the emotional picture viewing task, participants observed 204 total images from the IAPS. Sixty of the images were neutral and 144 were emotional images (e.g., unpleasant, pleasant). Data was recorded using a BrainVision 96-channel actiCap (sintered Ag-Ag/Cl; international 10-20 system) as well as a 24-bit battery-supplied active channel amplifier. Amplitude scores for the LPP were derived as the average amplitude within a window of 500 to 1000ms post-stimulus onset.
Results: Multiple regression analyses indicated that centroparietal LPP to neutral pictures was significantly associated with IU (β = .19, p = .04). However, centroparietal LPP to pleasant pictures (β = .03, p = .73) and centroparietal LPP to unpleasant pictures (β = .01, p = .91) was not associated with IU.
Discussion: Our results suggest that individuals elevated in IU may continue to attend to and process innocuous information, which could suggest that these individuals continue to monitor for threat even when the information is neutral. In addition, these findings add to the growing body of research focused on identifying and validating biomarkers of risk factors for anxiety-related disorders, such as IU. This work is important in order to bridge the gap between neurobiological processes and self-report.
Mary Oglesby– Student, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida
Jessica Ellis– University of Maryland
Nicholas Allan– Assistant Professor, Ohio University
Brian Albanese– Clinical Psychology Graduate Student, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida
Edward Bernat– University of Maryland
Norman Schmidt– Professor, Florida State University
Clinical Psychology Graduate Student
Florida State University