Anxiety disorders - using EEG to examine the relationship between attentional processes and anxiety in the transition from adolescence to adulthood
Anxiety disorders affect over 40-million people per year (Kessler et al., 2005). Adolescents are at especially high risk; with recent estimates suggesting one in three adolescents meets the criteria for an anxiety disorder (Merikangas et al., 2010). Despite this, the neural mechanisms underlying the development of anxiety disorders in adolescence remain poorly understood. The aim of the proposed research is to use EEG to examine the relationship between attentional processes and anxiety in the transition from adolescence to adulthood. This will be done by measuring two event-related potentials (ERPs) – the N2-posterior contralateral (N2pc) and distractor positivity (Pd) - which have been shown to reflect attentional processes in adults. Recent studies of these components have found reduced attentional control in individuals with high levels of anxiety (Fox et al., 2007; Weymar et al., 2013). However, these components have not been studied in adolescents, especially in relation to the development of anxiety. Studying these two components in adolescents will clarify the role of attention in the development of anxiety, which is crucial for the effective prevention and treatment of chronic anxiety disorders.
Requirements: We ask for a good honours degree of 2:1 or above and generally a masters or pending masters (merit or distinction) in Psychology or a related discipline.
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FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.45
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