Sunday, June 3, 2012

Trouble Crossing the Bridge: Altered Interhemispheric Communication of Emotional Images in Anxiety

Worry is thought to involve a strategy of cognitive avoidance, in which internal verbalization acts to suppress threatening emotional imagery. We tested the hypothesis that worry-prone individuals would exhibit patterns of between-hemisphere communication that reflect cognitive avoidance. Specifically, we predicted slower transfer of threatening images from the left to the right hemisphere among worriers. ERP measures of interhemispheric transfer time supported this prediction. Left-to-right hemisphere transfer times for angry faces were relatively slower for individuals scoring high in self-reported worry compared to those scoring low, while transfer of happy and neutral faces did not differ between groups. These results suggest that altered interhemispheric communication may constitute one mechanism of cognitive avoidance in worry.

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