Anxiety sensitivity and the anticipation of predictable and unpredictable threat: Evidence from the startle response and event-related potentials

Brady D. Nelson, Allie Hodges, Greg Hajcak, Stewart A Shankman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

There is growing evidence that heightened sensitivity to unpredictable threat is a core mechanism of dysfunction in anxiety disorders. However, it is unclear whether anxiety sensitivity is also associated with sensitivity to unpredictable threat. In the present study, 131 participants completed the Anxiety Sensitivity Index-3, which includes physical concerns (PC), social concerns (SC), and cognitive concerns (CC) subscales, and a predictable vs. unpredictable threat-of-shock task. Startle eyeblink and ERP responses (N100, P300) to the acoustic startle probes were measured during the task. PC and CC were associated with heightened and attenuated, respectively, startle for the unpredictable (but not predictable) condition. CC were also associated with attenuated probe N100 for the unpredictable condition only, and PC were associated with increased P300 suppression across the predictable and unpredictable conditions. This study provides novel evidence that the different anxiety sensitivity dimensions demonstrate unique relationships with the RDoC domains "acute" and "potential" threat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-71
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Volume33
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

Keywords

  • Anxiety sensitivity
  • Event-related potentials
  • Predictability
  • Startle response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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