Response interference by central foils is modulated by dimensions of depression and anxiety

Anne L. Weldon, Qiawen Liu, Wendy Heller, Simona Buetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We used a maximum-likelihood-based model selection approach to investigate what aspects of affective traits influence flanker interference in a nonaffective task. A total of 153 undergraduates completed measures of anhedonic depression, anxious arousal, anxious apprehension, and a modified flanker task with two levels of perceptual load. For central foils, the most parsimonious model included load, depression, and anxious arousal. Participants scoring low on the depression and anxious arousal scales exhibited a typical perceptual load effect, with larger interference effects observed under low perceptual load compared with high perceptual load conditions. Increased depression symptoms were associated with a reduced perceptual load effect. However, the load effect reemerged in individuals who scored high on both depression and anxious arousal scales, but to a lesser extent than those scoring low on both. This pattern of results underscores the importance of studying co-occurring affective traits and their interactions in the same sample. For peripherally presented foils, the model that only included load as a factor was more parsimonious than any of the models incorporating affective traits. These findings suggest avenues for future research and highlight the role of diverse affective symptoms on various aspects of nonemotional attentional processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1818-1834
Number of pages17
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Interference
  • Negative affect
  • Perceptual load
  • Selective attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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