Effects of Anxiety on Different Aspects of Information Processing

Added on - Jun 2021

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Running head: THESIS SUMMARY
Chapter 1
Name of the Student
Name of the University
Author Note
Research aims
The primary objective of this PhDresearchis to evaluate the existing association between
the speed of information processing and non-clinical anxiety levels, among older and younger
adults, in relation to a plethora of brain functions that encompass attention. These functions are
generally related to visual attention, selective attention, inhibitory cognitive control,reaction
time (RT)and intra-individual reaction time variability (IIVRT). Furthermore, another aim of
this research is to determine the relationship between the aforementionednon-clinical anxiety
levels and cognitive function (both subjective and objective), quality of sleep and demographics
such as, gender, age, education attainment, handedness and vision of the participants.
A multi-methodological approach was employed for meeting the primary objective,
which in turn would enhance the process of gaining a sound understanding of thenon-clinical
anxiety that is commonly found among older and younger adults. This approach also helped in
evaluating the potential effects of anxiety on different aspects of information processing.
Furthermore, it also unraveled whether influence of interactions between sleep and anxiety affect
the functionality of information processing. The approach basically focused on the use of
questionnaires and tests based on pen and paper, in addition to some electronic psychophysics
Furthermore, the approach also evaluated a wide range of aspects that were encompassed by
inhibition and visual attention. The secondary objective was to investigate the importance of
other factors such as, lifestyle that might contribute to the brain function and anxiety.
Research objective
The primary objectives of this research are given below:
1)To look at the differences between older and young adults in terms of anxiety (especially
non-clinical anxiety)
2)Further understand how anxiety levels could also influence cognitive functions.
3)To deduce how anxiety could cause subjective memory complaint and how low levels of
anxiety could cause depression.
4)To gain a deeper understanding of the correlation between anxiety (subclinical anxiety in
particular) and the higher brain faculties, such as, visual attention related information
processing, speed of information processing, and the objective measures that encompass
demographics of the sample population (younger and older adults) and their relation to
subjective memorycomplaint.
5)To investigate the association between speed of information processing andnon-clinical
6)To determine the relationship between levels ofnon-clinical anxietywith speed of
information processing and inhibition of cognitive control, in addition to attention
associated functioning
7)To evaluate the influence of non-clinical anxiety on IIVRT, RT and attention
8)To determine the association between sleep quality andsubclinical anxiety, in regards to
information processing speedand cognitive performance
9)To evaluate the interactions between anxiety and the aforementioned factors
10)Tomake recommendationsfor evaluation,treatmentandreductionof non-clinical
anxiety among older patients
Research question
Doessubclinical anxiety creates an impact on the brain functions, vision,cognitive
Is there any association between speed of information processing and non-clinical
anxiety, during the ageing process?Is thereany difference between older and younger
adults? Does the cognitive performance vary among males and females?
inhibitory cognitive control among older and younger adults?
Does poor RT and IIVRT characterise ageing in older adults, compared to their
younger counterparts? Is it influenced by non-clinical anxiety?
Is subclinical anxiety found to affect the sleep quality? Does that relation influence
information processing speed and attention?
Speed of information processing is generally considered as an essential aspect of
processing speed can therefore be defined as the cognitive ability that helps to understand
responds to particular information that is received, which might include movement, auditory and
visual. The clinical importance of information processing speed has also been illustrated by the
recently revised DSM-5 criteria that elaborate on the fact that processing speed is always
measured in regards of attention-related function that facilitates the process of diagnosing
dementia and its associated conditions (Torrens-Burton et al., 2017). Measurement of processing
speed during the diagnostic procedure is in fact related to the well-defined relationship between
the functional/structural integrity of gray and white matter with the behavioural measures of
speed. The structural integrity has been found to be detrimentally affected among AD patients,
when compared to reduced cognition during normal ageing (Phillips et al., 2013).
However,DSM-Vcriteriaisoftenvagueand failsto definespecificinformation
processing speed test, in addition to MCI or dementia, that might create an influence on the
processing speed. This would bring about significant changes in clinical test results and their
influences information processing speed. However, there is lack of supporting evidences for the
investigated its association with the speed of information processing. This provided evidence for
the association between high levels of anxiety and their subsequent impacts on brain functions
(Tobias, 2013). However, a flaw in the research studies were that low anxiety levels in older and
younger adults fail to influence brain functions that encompass processing speed, anxiety,
cognitive inhibition and vision. Although previous findings have examined the impact of
objective cognition on the essential brain functions and ageing, there is lack of adequate
evidence that took subjective memory into consideration, for the same (Brown et al., 2014).
Previous research have also proposed the role of methodological factors, such as, the kind of
tests on attention and processing speed in MCI, dementia and ageing. This forms the basis of
measuring processing speed, with the use of attention-related tests (Tales & Basoudan, 2016).
Information processing speed is an essential brain function since it refers to the cognitive
ability or the time that is required for accomplishing a mental task. In other words, it is an
essential brain function because it encompasses the duration between receiving and showing
response to a stimulus. Its importance as a brain function can also be attributed to the fact that
poor processing speed means signifies difficulty in conducting certain determined tasks such as,
problem solving, reading, taking notes, listening and or engaging in conversations. Poor speed
might also interfere with higher executive functions, and makes it difficult for such an individual
to set goals, plan, make decisions, pay attention, or begin tasks (Anderson & Hinton, 2014). It is
of relevance in dementia because research studies have established the fact that abnormal
electrical fields of event-related potentials might lead to poor information processing in dementia
patients, thereby worsening their cognitive impairment (Kriegeskorte, 2015). Attention is also an
important brain function that is needed to human behaviour. It refers to the selection process for
internal or external events that have to be maintained at specific awareness levels. Its importance
as a brain function can be related with the fact that attention helps the brain to selectively
concentrate on certain aspects of the surrounding environment, while ignoring a range of other
things (Bari & Robbins, 2013). Furthermore, the fact that in addition to progressive impairment
of memory, dementia patients often report problems in selective or focused attention, dementia
diagnosis involve attention and processing speed measurement. Thus, the research found it
necessary to consider these two aspects, in relation to ageing (Wesnes et al., 2015).
objective of this research work would be to evaluate the effects of non-clinical anxiety levels on
information processingspeed and its variability, as well asattention, among older and younger
adults. The possible relationship between anxiety and subjective memory functions will also be
investigated, in regards to brain functions relatedto RT, IIVRT attention and inhibition.Thus,
this will be a novel research since it will take into consideration the subjective memory
functions. The study will also consider quality of sleep, in relation to non-clinical anxiety,
demographics and the aforementioned factors.
What is anxiety?
Anxietyrefers toemotional manifestation that is characterized by unpleasant states of
inner turmoil that are often accompanied by display of abnormally nervous behavior.Such
behaviour commonly includes somatic complaints, pacing back and forth,andrumination. Such
anxiety symptoms might often be experienced by young and older adults that might make them
face nihilistic feelings or existential crisis. Until recently, anxiety disorders were considered to
decline with the ageing process (Lader, 2015). However, anxiety disorders have frequently been
found associated with older adults, upon encountering traumatic events related to acute illness or
falls. The immediate effects of anxiety include manifestation of unpleasant feelings over
anticipated events such as imminent death.These can result in bypassing the overall actions,
regardless of the individuals desire(Meichenbaum & Turk, 2017).
It results in an expectation of future threats and leads to feelings of worry or uneasiness
that are more commonly unfocused and generalized, as a direct response to situations that are
perceived as menacing. Its immediate effects on brain include high activity as a response to
emotional stimuli, received by the amygdala. It also results in overpotentiation of the limbic
system (nucleus accumbens and amygdala) (Qin et al., 2014). Thus, anxiety plays an important
role in understating about dementia and the ageing process. There is lack of evidence for low
anxiety levels and their possible influence on essential brain function. Thus, it is essential to
measure the levels of anxiety for gaining a deeper understanding of the aforementioned brain
functions. This will be measured by usingState-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) and Beck
Anxiety Inventory (BAI) tests (Livingston et al., 2013).
It is imperative to gain a sound understanding of the different types of anxiety namely,
existential, trait, test and performance, social, stranger and intergroup anxieties, for the purpose
of the research (Kesebir, 2014). According to Fazeliet al., (2014), anxiety experienced for a short
time span is explained by the term state anxiety that encompasses unpleasant emotions for
existing in complicated or threatening situations. This anxiety is not associated with the
cognition, health or social status of the affected person. It gets eliminated with removal of the
disturbing stimulus (Bryant et al., 2008; Eysenck & Derakshan, 2011; Paulus & Stein, 2006).
Trait anxiety refers to the tendency that leads to long term emotional arousal. It lasts longer,
when compared to state anxiety. Both of the above mentioned anxiety types signify unpleasant
feelings of stress, upon confrontation with unpleasant situations. Burgess et al. (2014) argued
that state anxiety is ephemeral. This is associated with specific situations that trigger stress
among patients. Furthermore, Harrington et al. (2017) opposed the view and provided evidences
for long term effects of trait anxiety. Mirza et al. (2017) also opined that state anxiety gets
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