Title page for ETD etd-05042001-114323


Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Santucci, Aimee Kristin
URN etd-05042001-114323
Title Cognitive Biases and Autonomic Responding in Anxiety and Depression
Degree Master of Science
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Friedman, Bruce H. Committee Chair
Bell, Martha Ann Committee Member
Crawford, Helen J. Committee Member
Keywords
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Heart Rate Variability
Date of Defense 2001-03-29
Availability mixed
Abstract
The present study addressed cognitive biases in anxiety and depression using the emotional Stroop task, and explored both the affective space and autonomic underpinnings of these disorders. In previous studies, anxiety has been associated with both an attentional bias toward threat information and low cardiac vagal control, as reflected in heart rate variability (HRV) indices. Depression has been linked to a memory bias for negative information; however, findings of low HRV for depression are mixed. The high comorbidity of these disorders renders such findings as difficult to interpret. In the present study, it was hypothesized that the negative affect groups (anxious, depressed, comorbid anxious/depressed) would have lower vagally mediated HRV across tasks compared to the control group and that the anxiety and depression groups would show biases for group specific words on the Stroop task. Results for the Stroop tasks generally support previous findings of an attention bias in anxiety. The comorbid anxiety/depression group generally showed lower vagal control across tasks compared to the other groups, although comparisons between the “pure” anxiety and depression groups and the controls were not significant. It is suggested that this is because the comorbid group had higher depression and anxiety than either of the “pure” groups.

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