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Trait Anxiety Effects on Late Phase Threatening Speech Processing: Evidence from Electroencephalography

Busch-Moreno, S; Tuomainen, J; Vinson, D; (2021) Trait Anxiety Effects on Late Phase Threatening Speech Processing: Evidence from Electroencephalography. European Journal of Neuroscience 10.1111/ejn.15470. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

The effects of threatening stimuli, including threatening language, on trait anxiety have been widely studied. However, whether anxiety levels have a direct effect on language processing has not been so consistently explored. The present study focuses on event-related potential (ERP) patterns resulting from electroencephalographic (EEG) measurement of participants' (n = 36) brain activity while they perform a dichotic listening task. Participants' anxiety level was measured via a behavioural inhibition system scale (BIS). Later, participants listened to dichotically paired sentences, one neutral and the other threatening, and indicated at which ear they heard the threatening stimulus. Threatening sentences expressed threat semantically-only, prosodically-only, or both combined (congruent threat). ERPs showed a late positivity, interpreted as a late positive complex (LPC). Results from Bayesian hierarchical models provided strong support for an association between LPC and BIS score. This was interpreted as an effect of trait anxiety on deliberation processes. We discuss two possible interpretations. On the one hand, verbal repetitive thinking, as associated with anxious rumination and worry, can be the mechanism disrupting late phase deliberation processes. Instantiated by inner speech, verbal repetitive thinking might be the vehicle of anxiety-related reappraisal and/or rehearsal. On the other hand, increased BIS could be simply affecting an extended evaluation stage as proposed by multistep models, maybe due to over-engagement with threat or to task-related effects.

Type: Article
Title: Trait Anxiety Effects on Late Phase Threatening Speech Processing: Evidence from Electroencephalography
Location: France
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/ejn.15470
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/ejn.15470
Language: English
Additional information: © 2021 The Authors. European Journal of Neuroscience published by Federation of European Neuroscience Societies and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.
Keywords: anxiety, cognition, electrophysiology, emotion, prosody, semantics
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10135953
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