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Are the anxious oblivious?
Date:12/20/2011

r's State-Trait Anxiety Inventory trait scale, they identified the 10 percent "most anxious" individuals and 10 percent "least anxious" individuals to participate in the final study.

In the first part of their study, the researchers measured behavioral responses to fear-inducing stimuli. A set of pictures, featuring a person looking progressively more fearful on a scale of 1-100, was shown to the participants. When shown the sequence of pictures, anxious people were quicker to respond to the fear in the subject's face. They identified a face as being "fearful" at a rating of only 32, while non-anxious people did not describe the same face as fearful until it reached a rating of 39.

But the EEG data tells a different story, Frenkel says. The researchers also measured the participants' brain waves by EEG while they were being shown the photographs and discovered that non-anxious individuals completed an in-depth processing of fear-inducing stimuli that informed their behavioral response, whereas anxious individuals did not.

Compensating for an "insensitive" brain

When confronted with a potential threat, Frenkel concluded, non-anxious people unconsciously notice subtle changes in the environment before they consciously recognize the threat. Lacking such preparation, anxious individuals often react more strongly, as the threat takes them more "by surprise."

"The EEG results tell us that what looks like hypersensitivity on a behavioral level is in fact the anxious person's attempt to compensate for a deficit in the sensitivity of their perception," she explains.


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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert  

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