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Thirty-Third Annual Meeting of the Society for Research in Psychopathology

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24. The effects of social anxiety and depression symptoms on task-elicited cognitive and emotional reactivity and frontal alpha asymmetry

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) and major depressive disorder (MDD) are common disorders characterized by cognitive distortions and emotional reactivity. Studies show that individuals with SAD and MDD exhibit greater relative left frontal electroencephalogram (EEG) alpha asymmetry (FAA) at rest, but relatively little work has examined internalizing symptoms and task-elicited FAA. This study assessed FAA and cognitive and emotional reactivity in 54 undergraduates (age: M = 19, SD = 1.10) using a peer victimization-related mood induction. Participants listened to and read 13 conversations in which two peers talk about another person with varying levels of negative content. After each scenario, participants were asked to imagine that the peers were talking about them while EEG was recorded, then answered questions related to their emotional and cognitive reactivity. Regression analyses determined SAD symptoms were significant predictors of left FAA such that individuals with more symptoms had greater left versus right frontal alpha across scenarios. Further, SAD symptoms were significant predictors of higher cognitive reactivity in men, and depressive symptoms predicted higher emotional reactivity in women. These results highlight a novel approach examining neural, cognitive, and emotional reactivity to personally-relevant scenarios with potential to inform understanding of the etiology of internalizing disorders.

Emilia Cardenas
Vanderbilt University

Patrick Melugin
Vanderbilt Brain Institute

David Cole
Vanderbilt University

Autumn Kujawa
Vanderbilt University


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