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1.  Time course of processing emotional stimuli as a function of perceived emotional intelligence, anxiety, and depression 
Emotion (Washington, D.C.)  2010;10(4):486-497.
An individual’s self-reported abilities to attend to, understand, and reinterpret emotional situations or events have been associated with anxiety and depression, but it is unclear how these abilities affect the processing of emotional stimuli, especially in individuals with these symptoms. The present study recorded event-related brain potentials while individuals reporting features of anxiety and depression completed an emotion-word Stroop task. Results indicated that anxious apprehension, anxious arousal, and depression were associated with self-reported emotion abilities, consistent with prior literature. Additionally, lower anxious apprehension and greater reported emotional clarity were related to slower processing of negative stimuli indexed by event-related potentials (ERPs). Higher anxious arousal and reported attention to emotion were associated with ERP evidence of early attention to all stimuli regardless of emotional content. Reduced later engagement with stimuli was also associated with anxious arousal and with clarity of emotions. Depression was not differentially associated with any emotion processing stage indexed by ERPs. Research in this area may lead to the development of therapies that focus on minimization of anxiety in order to foster successful emotion regulation.
PMCID: PMC3932618  PMID: 20677866
anxiety; depression; perceived emotional intelligence; ERPs; emotional Stroop
2.  Time Course of Attentional Bias in Anxiety: Emotion and Gender Specificity 
Psychophysiology  2009;47(2):247-259.
Anxiety is characterized by cognitive biases, including attentional bias to emotional (especially threatening) stimuli. Accounts differ on the time course of attention to threat, but the literature generally confounds emotional valence and arousal and overlooks gender effects, both addressed in the present study. Nonpatients high in self-reported anxious apprehension, anxious arousal, or neither completed an emotion-word Stroop task during ERP recording. Hypotheses differentiated time course of preferential attention to emotional stimuli. Individuals high in anxious apprehension and anxious arousal showed distinct early ERP evidence of preferential processing of emotionally arousing stimuli along with some evidence for gender differences in processing. Healthy controls showed gender differences at both early and later processing stages. The conjunction of valence, arousal, and gender is critical in the time course of attentional bias.
PMCID: PMC3073148  PMID: 19863758
3.  Neural correlates of suspiciousness and interactions with anxiety during emotional and neutral word processing 
Suspiciousness is usually classified as a symptom of psychosis, but it also occurs in depression and anxiety disorders. Though how suspiciousness overlaps with depression is not obvious, suspiciousness does seem to overlap with anxious apprehension and anxious arousal (e.g., verbal iterative processes and vigilance about environmental threat). However, suspiciousness also has unique characteristics (e.g., concern about harm from others and vigilance about social threat). Given that both anxiety and suspiciousness have been associated with abnormalities in emotion processing, it is unclear whether it is the unique characteristics of suspiciousness or the overlap with anxiety that drive abnormalities in emotion processing. Event-related brain potentials were obtained during an emotion-word Stroop task. Results indicated that suspiciousness interacts with anxious apprehension to modulate initial stimulus perception processes. Suspiciousness is associated with attention to all stimuli regardless of emotion content. In contrast, anxious arousal is associated with a later response to emotion stimuli only. These results suggest that suspiciousness and anxious apprehension share overlapping processes, but suspiciousness alone is associated with a hyperactive early vigilance response. Depression did not interact with suspiciousness to predict response to emotion stimuli. These findings suggest that it may be informative to assess suspiciousness in conjunction with anxiety in order to better understand how these symptoms interact and contribute to dysfunctional emotion processing.
PMCID: PMC4073627  PMID: 25018737
suspiciousness; anxiety; emotional stroop; paranoia; event-related brain potentials
4.  Electrophysiological evidence of the time course of attentional bias in non-patients reporting symptoms of depression with and without co-occurring anxiety 
Anxiety is characterized by attentional biases to threat, but findings are inconsistent for depression. To address this inconsistency, the present study systematically assessed the role of co-occurring anxiety in attentional bias in depression. In addition, the role of emotional valence, arousal, and gender was explored. Ninety-two non-patients completed the Penn State Worry Questionnaire (Meyer et al., 1990; Molina and Borkovec, 1994) and portions of the Mood and Anxiety Symptom Questionnaire (Watson et al., 1995a,1995b). Individuals reporting high levels of depression and low levels of anxiety (depression only), high levels of depression and anxiety (combined), or low levels of both (control) completed an emotion-word Stroop task during event-related brain potential recording. Pleasant and unpleasant words were matched on emotional arousal level. An attentional bias was not evident in the depression-only group. Women in the combined group had larger N200 amplitude for pleasant than unpleasant stimuli, and the combined group as a whole had larger right-lateralized P300 amplitude for pleasant than unpleasant stimuli, consistent with an early and later attentional bias that is specific to unpleasant valence in the combined group. Men in the control group had larger N200 amplitude for pleasant than unpleasant stimuli, consistent with an early attentional bias that is specific to pleasant valence. The present study indicates that the nature and time course of attention prompted by emotional valence and not arousal differentiates depression with and without anxiety, with some evidence of gender moderating early effects. Overall, results suggest that co-occurring anxiety is more important than previously acknowledged in demonstrating evidence of attentional biases in depression.
PMCID: PMC3988368  PMID: 24782804
attentional bias; anxiety; depression; emotion; event-related brain potentials
5.  Neuropsychological differentiation of adaptive creativity and schizotypal cognition 
Both creativity and schizophrenia-spectrum disorders have been associated with activation of remote semantic concepts, but this activation results in innovative output in one case and communication disturbances in the other. The present study examined the relationship between monitoring semantic information (which relies on executive brain function), creativity, and characteristics of schizotypy in an undergraduate population. Results indicate that executive function differentiates the use of semantic information in creativity and schizotypy. Specification of the balance between executive monitoring and activation of semantic information is important for determining how communication disturbances manifest, and for the measurement of creativity and schizotypy in the general population.
PMCID: PMC3481837  PMID: 23109749
schizotypy; creativity; semantic; memory; executive function
6.  Repetition of letter strings leads to activation of and connectivity with word-related regions 
Neuroimage  2011;59(3):2839-2849.
Individuals learn to read by gradually recognizing repeated letter combinations. However, it is unclear how or when neural mechanisms associated with repetition of basic stimuli (i.e., strings of letters) shift to involvement of higher-order language networks. The present study investigated this question by repeatedly presenting unfamiliar letter strings in a one-back matching task during an hour-long period. Activation patterns indicated that only brain areas associated with visual processing were activated during the early period, but additional regions that are usually associated with semantic and phonological processing in inferior frontal gyrus were recruited after stimuli became more familiar. Changes in activation were also observed in bilateral superior temporal cortex, also suggestive of a shift toward a more language-based processing strategy. Connectivity analyses reveal two distinct networks that correspond to phonological and visual processing, which may reflect the indirect and direct routes of reading. The phonological route maintained a similar degree of connectivity throughout the experiment, whereas visual areas increased connectivity with language areas as stimuli became more familiar, suggesting early recruitment of the direct route. This study provides insight about plasticity of the brain as individuals become familiar with unfamiliar combinations of letters (i.e., words in a new language, new acronyms) and has implications for engaging these linguistic networks during development of language remediation therapies.
PMCID: PMC3254793  PMID: 21982931
letter strings; fMRI; connectivity; reading; learning; plasticity
7.  Attentional Bias to Negative Emotion as a Function of Approach and Withdrawal Anger Styles: An ERP Investigation 
Although models of emotion have focused on the relationship between anger and approach motivation associated with aggression, anger is also related to withdrawal motivation. Anger-out and anger-in styles are associated with psychopathology and may disrupt the control of attention within the context of negatively valenced information. The present study used event-related brain potentials (ERPs) to examine whether anger styles uniquely predict attentional bias to negative stimuli during an emotion-word Stroop task. High anger-out predicted larger N200, P300, and N400 to negative words, suggesting that aggressive individuals exert more effort to override attention to negative information. In contrast, high anger-in predicted smaller N400 amplitude to negative words, indicating that negative information may be readily available (primed) for anger suppressors, requiring fewer resources. Individuals with an anger-out style might benefit from being directed away from provocative stimuli that might otherwise consume their attention and foster overt aggression. Findings indicating that anger-out and anger-in were associated with divergent patterns of brain activity provide support for distinguishing approach- and withdrawal-related anger styles.
PMCID: PMC2867457  PMID: 20109502
Anger; Emotion; Motivation; Cognitive Resources; Event-Related Potentials
8.  Specificity of emotion-related effects on attentional processing in schizotypy 
Schizophrenia research  2008;103(1-3):129-137.
In the schizophrenia spectrum, cognitive functions such as perception, language, and attention have been shown to be adversely influenced by negative affect. The present study addressed three issues of specificity and one issue of mechanism regarding affect-related attentional disruption in schizotypy: (1) Is attentional disturbance from negative affective stimuli specific to positive (PS) but not negative schizotypy (NS)? (2) Do positive affective stimuli also foster attentional disturbance? (3) Are anxiety and depression differentially related to PS and NS? (4) Whatever the degree of specificity in these relationships, does anxiety mediate the relationship between schizotypy and attentional disturbance?
Nonpatient participants (N=162) provided responses on scales of schizotypy, anxiety, and depression and performed an emotional Stroop task, judging the ink color of positive, neutral, and negative words.
PS but not NS was associated with poorer attentional performance. This attentional disturbance was specific to negative words. PS was associated with anxiety and depression, whereas NS was associated only with depression. Finally, anxiety and depression did not fully mediate the relationship between PS and attentional interference related to negative affective stimuli.
Findings of attentional disturbance in the presence of negative affective stimuli, particularly in positive schizotypy, have substantial theoretical implications. They provide a path by which the interplay of cognitive and affective phenomena could lead to the formation, maintenance, and exacerbation of positive symptoms, including delusions and hallucinations. Findings from this study also underscore the importance of examining the differential contribution of comorbid anxiety and depression to cognitive and affective function in the schizophrenia spectrum.
PMCID: PMC2881633  PMID: 18440784
Schizotypy; Positive schizotypy; Emotional Stroop; Anxiety; Depression
9.  Word and Letter String Processing Networks in Schizophrenia: Evidence for Anomalies and Compensation 
Brain and language  2008;107(2):158-166.
Imaging studies show that in normal language correlated activity between anterior and posterior brain regions increases as the linguistic and semantic content (i.e., from false fonts, letter strings, pseudo words, to words) of stimuli increase. In schizophrenia however, disrupted functional connectivity between frontal and posterior brain regions has been frequently reported and these disruptions may change the nature of language organization. We characterized basic linguistic operations in word and letter string processing in a region-of-interest network using structural equation modeling (SEM). Healthy volunteers and volunteers with schizophrenia performed an fMRI one-back matching task with real words and consonant letter strings. We hypothesized that left hemisphere network dysfunction in schizophrenia would be present during processes dealing with linguistic/semantic content. The modeling results suggest aberrant left hemisphere function in schizophrenia, even in tasks requiring minimal access to language. Alternative mechanisms included increases in right hemisphere involvement and increased top-down influence from frontal to posterior regions.
PMCID: PMC2599869  PMID: 18829095
Schizophrenia and language; Lateralization; Lexical-semantic processing; Imaging; Effective Connectivity; Modeling

Results 1-9 (9)