Working Memory Capacity in Social Anxiety Disorder: Revisiting Prior Conclusions


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Abstract

In one of the few studies examining working memory processes in social anxiety disorder (SAD), Amir and Bomyea (2011) recruited participants with and without SAD to complete a working memory span task with neutral and social threat words. Those with SAD showed better working memory performance for social threat words compared to neutral words, suggesting an enhancement in processing efficiency for socially threatening information in SAD. The current study sought to replicate and extend these findings. In this study, 25 participants with a principal diagnosis of SAD, 24 anxious control (AC) participants with anxiety disorders other than SAD, and 27 healthy control (HC) participants with no anxiety disorder completed a working memory task with social threat, general threat, and neutral stimuli. The groups in the current study demonstrated similar working memory performance within each of the word type conditions, thus failing to replicate the principal findings of Amir and Bomyea (2011). Post hoc analyses revealed a significant association between higher levels of anxiety symptomatology and poorer overall WM performance. These results inform our understanding of working memory in the anxiety disorders and support the importance of replication in psychological research.

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