Background: Trait anxiety has a detrimental effect on attention, which further leads to dysfunction of inhibitory control. However, there is no study examining how trait anxiety modulates inhibitory abilities on restraint and cancellation in the same subjects. Therefore, we aimed to use electrophysiological recordings to interrogate whether and to what extent trait anxiety modulated these two kinds of inhibitory functions. The Cognitive Failures Questionnaire (CFQ), a self-reported assessment of daily absentmindedness, was also used to examine its association with inhibition-related electrophysiological indicators. Methods: Forty subjects were recruited from the top 10% (Higher Trait Anxiety [HTA], n= 20) and last 10% (Lower Trait Anxiety [LTA], n= 20) of the trait anxiety score distribution from 400 college students. During electrophysiological recordings, the Go-Nogo and stop-signal tasks were performed, which evaluated the abilities of restraint and cancellation, respectively. Results: The HTA and LTA groups showed a comparable behavioral performance of restraint and cancellation abilities. However, the results of time–frequency analysis revealed that those with HTA demonstrated a stronger power of alpha oscillations (600‒1000 ms) in response to Stop trials in the stop-signal task, compared with individuals with LTA. Such oscillatory activity was positively correlated with the CFQ score. There was no significant between-group difference of the brain activation in the Go-Nogo task. Limitations: Future studies can recruit both individuals with trait anxiety and anxiety disorders to clarify the boundaries between healthy and pathological worries in terms of cancellation ability. Conclusions: cancellation, but not restraint, is modulated by trait anxiety.
- Brain oscillation
- Cognitive Failures Questionnaire (CFQ)
- Inhibitory function