Worry is associated with inefficient functional connectivity and activity in prefrontal and cingulate cortices during emotional interference
Anxiety, one of the most common psychiatric conditions in the Western world, is known to impair attentional control, or an individual’s capacity to choose what they pay attention to and what they ignore. Neuroimaging studies generally support these findings, reporting that anxiety shows increased, or inefficient, activity in certain parts of the brain—the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). In order to clarify the relationship between worry (a trait of anxiety) and the function and connectivity with these parts of the brain, this study was undertaken, showing that, when completing a task with high and low emotional interference conditions, worry was associated with increased/inefficient activity and reduced functional connectivity in ACC and DLFPC. The bottom line? Worry competes for limited processing resources when demands are high. With our collaborators we are now developing neurocognitive interventions that can enhance attentional control in anxious individuals worked funded by the British Academy and Rosetrees Trust.