This study demonstrates, for the first time, that in pathological anxiety, behavioural responses depend on spatial correspondence to emotional information. Anxious patients and healthy controls were presented with word pairs consisting of one emotional and one neutral word (one above the other) and were asked to respond to the print colour of each pair by pressing the upper or lower response key. Patients responded faster when the required response did spatially correspond with a threat-related or positive word than when not; controls showed no significant response modulation. Response patterns were similar with 14 ms and 500 ms word presentation. These results are taken to suggest that these anxious patients preferentially respond to threat-relevant and positive information and are impaired to counteract this early tendency.
Schrooten, M. G. S., Smulders, F. T. Y., & Arntz, A. (2011). Modulation of responses to emotional information in pathological anxiety. Journal of Experimental Psychopathology, 2(3), 371-385. https://doi.org/10.5127/jep.012710