Category: Cognitive Science / Cognitive Processes

Symposium

Symposium 58 - New Developments in Understanding Cognitive Processing in Anxiety

Friday, November 17
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
Location: Cobalt 502, Level 5, Cobalt Level

Keywords: Cognitive Vulnerability | Cognitive Processes | Anxiety
Presentation Type: Symposium

Over the past several decades cognitive biases have increasingly become core factors in the conceptualization and treatment of anxiety pathology. People with anxiety disorders tend to have selective information-processing tendencies that can maintain disorders in powerful ways. Past research has focused on significant biases in attention, memory, and interpretation associated with anxiety (Mathews & MacLeod, 2005). Successful cognitive-behavioral treatments have purposefully targeted these biases to great effect (Deacon & Abramowitz, 2004). Yet novel research has begun to show that those with anxiety exhibit cognitive tendencies that do not fall under the classical domains of attention, memory, and appraisal. Future-leaning developments in cognitive research are examining exciting new arenas, such as deficits in learning event probabilities, differential levels of response to types of reinforcement and punishment learning, biases in continuous updating of social information, and anxiety’s influences on theory of mind. The goal of this symposium is to underscore these new directions in understanding anxiety-related cognitive vulnerabilities and strengths in the hope that future CBT approaches will address them.


First, Lucas LaFreniere from the Newman Laboratory of Anxiety and Depression Research (LADR) will present experimental results demonstrating deficits in probabilistic learning and positive reinforcement response in GAD. Next, Miranda Beltzer from the Program for Anxiety, Cognition, and Treatment (PACT) lab will offer findings suggesting that those with social anxiety have problems in updating social outcome probabilities learned by punishment and impaired response to social reward. After, Karl Fua of PACT will present a powerful new method for dynamically evaluating the biased manner in which anxious persons process sequences of differently valenced information. He will also relay findings from this method showing continuous biases in those with heightened anxiety. Fourth, Hani Zainal of LADR will present surprising data from two theory of mind tasks showing increased ability to infer others’ social cues in those with GAD after worrying. Lastly, our discussant Dr. Richard McNally will offer his valuable thoughts on these studies and pioneering cognitive perspectives.

Learning Objectives:

Lucas S. LaFreniere

Doctoral Student
The Pennsylvania State University

Presentation(s):

Send Email for Lucas LaFreniere

Sadia Najmi

Assistant Research Professor, Department of Psychology
San Diego State University

Presentation(s):

    Send Email for Sadia Najmi

    Lucas S. LaFreniere

    Doctoral Student
    The Pennsylvania State University

    Presentation(s):

    Send Email for Lucas LaFreniere

    Miranda Beltzer

    Doctoral Student
    University of Virginia

    Presentation(s):

    Send Email for Miranda Beltzer

    Karl C. Fua

    Doctoral Student
    University of Virginia

    Presentation(s):

    Send Email for Karl Fua

    Hani Zainal

    Doctoral Student
    The Pennsylvania State University

    Presentation(s):

    Send Email for Hani Zainal


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