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The impact of high trait social anxiety on neural processing of facial emotion expressions in females


Felmingham, KL and Stewart, LF and Kemp, AH and Carr, AR, The impact of high trait social anxiety on neural processing of facial emotion expressions in females, Biological Psychology, 117 pp. 179-186. ISSN 0301-0511 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 Elsevier B.V.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2016.04.001


A cognitive model of social anxiety predicts that an early attentional bias leads to greater cognitive processing of social threat signals, whereas the vigilance-avoidance model predicts there will be subsequent reduction in cognitive processing. This study tests these models by examining neural responses to social threat stimuli using Event-related potentials (ERP). 19 women with high trait social anxiety and 19 women with low trait social anxiety viewed emotional expressions (angry, disgusted, happy and neutral) in a passive viewing task whilst ERP responses were recorded. The HSA group revealed greater automatic attention, or hypervigilance, to all facial expressions, as indexed by greater N1 amplitude compared to the LSA group. They also showed greater sustained attention and elaborative processing of all facial expressions, indexed by significantly increased P2 and P3 amplitudes compared to the LSA group. These results support cognitive models of social anxiety, but are not consistent with predictions of the vigilance-avoidance model.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:ERP; Social anxiety; Emotion; Trait anxiety; Event-related potentials
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Biological psychology
Research Field:Behavioural neuroscience
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in psychology
UTAS Author:Felmingham, KL (Professor Kim Felmingham)
UTAS Author:Stewart, LF (Ms Laura Stewart)
UTAS Author:Carr, AR (Associate Professor Andrea Carr)
ID Code:117123
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:11
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2017-05-31
Last Modified:2017-11-03

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