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WIREs Cogn Sci
Impact Factor: 3.476

Anxiety and cognition

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In this review we discuss the interplay between anxiety and cognition, illustrating how anxiety can compromise performance on cognitively‐demanding tasks and lead people to perform below their ability. Using math anxiety and test anxiety as examples, we highlight key findings from psychology, cognitive science, and neuroscience, to show that how one approaches an anxiety‐inducing situation can have a large impact on how that person ultimately performs. We end by discussing who is most susceptible to anxiety‐induced poor performance and suggest promising techniques which may help to reduce the negative impact of anxiety on performance. WIREs Cogn Sci 2014, 5:403–411. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1299 This article is categorized under: Psychology > Emotion and Motivation
Physiological arousal, if interpreted as a threat rather than as a challenge, can lead to negative emotions such as anxiety. Anxiety can impact cognitively demanding tasks via two routes; (A) anxiety leads to maladaptive physiological changes and regulating these physiological changes requires the same neural regions that are necessary for performing cognitively demanding tasks and (B) anxiety can cause negative thoughts and ruminations that occupy the working memory resources needed for the primary task.
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