Unique associations between conditioned cognitive and physiological threat responses and facets of anxiety symptomatology in youth

Zohar Klein, Rany Abend, Shahar Shmuel, Tomer Shechner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study examined associations between anxiety symptomatology and cognitive and physiological threat responses during threat learning in a large sample of children and adolescents. Anxiety symptomatology severity along different dimensions (generalized anxiety, separation anxiety, social anxiety, and panic symptoms) was measured using parental and self-reports. Participants completed differential threat acquisition and extinction using an age-appropriate threat conditioning task. They then returned to the lab after 7–10 days to complete an extinction recall task that also assessed threat generalization. Results indicated that more severe overall anxiety was associated with greater cognitive and physiological threat responses during acquisition, extinction, and extinction recall. During acquisition and extinction, all anxiety dimensions manifested greater cognitive threat responses, while panic, separation anxiety, and social anxiety symptoms, but not generalized anxiety, were related to heightened physiological threat responses. In contrast, when we assessed generalization of cognitive threat responses, we found only generalized anxiety symptoms were associated with greater threat response generalization. The study provides preliminary evidence of specificity in threat responses during threat learning across youth with different anxiety symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108314
JournalBiological Psychology
Volume170
StatePublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier B.V.

Keywords

  • Anxiety symptoms
  • Cognitive threat responses, physiological threat responses
  • Generalization
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology

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