Within-person increase in pathological worry predicts depletion of unique executive functioning domains

<jats:title>Abstract/jats:title<jats:title>Background/jats:title<jats:p>Affective neuroscience and scar theories propose that increased excessive worry, the hallmark symptom of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), predicts future declines in executive functioning (EF). However, the preponderance of cross-sectional designs used to examine between-person chronic worry–EF relationships has blocked progress on understanding their potentially <jats:italic>causal/jats:italic within-person associations. Accordingly, this study used bivariate dual latent change score (LCS) models to test whether within-person increased GAD severity might relate to future reduced EF./jats:p/jats:sec<jats:title>Methods/jats:title<jats:p>Community-dwelling adults (<jats:italic>N/jats:italic = 2581, 46 years on average, <jats:sc>s.d./jats:sc = 11.40, 54.71% female) were assessed for GAD symptom severity (Composite International Diagnostic Interview-Short Form) across three waves, spaced about 9 years apart. Three aspects of EF [inhibition, set-shifting, and mixing costs (MCs; a measure related to common EF)], were assessed with stop-and-go switch tasks. Participants responded to 20 normal and 20 reverse single-task block trials and 32 mixed-task switch block trials. EF tests were administered at time 2 (<jats:italic>T/jats:italic2) and time 3 (<jats:italic>T/jats:italic3), but not at time 1 (<jats:italic>T/jats:italic1)./jats:p/jats:sec<jats:title>Results/jats:title<jats:p>After controlling for <jats:italic>T/jats:italic1 depression, LCS models revealed that within-person increased <jats:italic>T/jats:italic1 − <jats:italic>T/jats:italic2 GAD severity substantially predicted future reduced <jats:italic>T/jats:italic2 − <jats:italic>T/jats:italic3 inhibition and set-shifting (both indexed by accuracy and latency), and MC (indexed by latency) with moderate-to-large effect sizes (|<jats:italic>d/jats:italic| = 0.51–0.96)./jats:p/jats:sec<jats:title>Conclusions/jats:title<jats:p>Results largely support scar theories by offering preliminary within-person, naturalistic evidence that heightened excessive worry can negatively predict future distinct aspects of cognitive flexibility. Effectively targeting pathological worry might prevent difficulties arising from executive dysfunction./jats:p/jats:sec

Originally Published at 10.1017/s0033291720000422



Work Title Within-person increase in pathological worry predicts depletion of unique executive functioning domains
Open Access
  1. Nur Hani Zainal
  2. Michelle G. Newman
License CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives)
Work Type Article
  1. Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Publication Date March 19, 2020
Publisher Identifier (DOI)
  1. 10.1017/s0033291720000422
  1. Psychological Medicine
Deposited September 09, 2021




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