Assessing anxiety-linked impairment in attentional control without eye-tracking: The masked-target antisaccade task

Julian Basanovic*, Jemma Todd, Bram van Bockstaele, Lies Notebaert, Frances Meeten, Patrick J.F. Clarke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Contemporary cognitive theories of anxiety and attention processing propose that heightened levels of anxiety vulnerability are associated with a decreasing ability to inhibit the allocation of attention towards task-irrelevant information. Existing performance-based research has most often used eye-movement assessment variants of the antisaccade paradigm to demonstrate such effects. Critically, however, eye-movement assessment methods are limited by expense, the need for expert training in administration, and limited mobility and scalability. These barriers have likely led to researchers’ use of suboptimal methods of assessing the relationship between attentional control and anxiety vulnerability. The present study examined the capacity for a non-eye-movement-based variant of the antisaccade task, the masked-target antisaccade task (Guitton et al., 1985), to detect anxiety-linked differences in attentional control. Participants (N = 342) completed an assessment of anxiety vulnerability and performed the masked-target antisaccade task in an online assessment session. Greater levels of anxiety vulnerability predicted poorer performance on the task, consistent with findings observed from eye-movement methods and with cognitive theories of anxiety and attention processing. Results also revealed the task to have high internal reliability. Our findings indicate that the masked-target antisaccade task provides a psychometrically reliable, low-cost, mobile, and scalable assessment of anxiety-linked differences in attentional control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-142
Number of pages8
JournalBehavior research methods
Volume55
Issue number1
Early online date15 Mar 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

Keywords

  • Antisaccade
  • Anxiety
  • Attentional control

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