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Biol Psychol. 2008 Mar;77(3):353-8. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2007.11.010. Epub 2007 Dec 7.

Anxiety impairs decision-making: psychophysiological evidence from an Iowa Gambling Task.

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Program of Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Psychology, Babes-Bolyai University, 37 Republicii, Cluj-Napoca, CJ 400015, Romania.


Using the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) and psychophysiological correlates of emotional responses (i.e., heart rate and skin conductance), we investigate the effects of trait anxiety (TA) on decision-making. We find that high TA is associated with both impaired decision-making and increased anticipatory physiological (somatic) responses prior to advantageous trials. For both high and low TA, skin conductance responses preceding advantageous trials predict decisions. At the same time, somatic responses to choice outcomes reflect differences between high and low TA sensitivities to punishments and rewards. The pattern of impaired decision-making and increased somatic markers that we find in high TA may have important implications for neuropsychological decision theory. In particular, it offers an example of defective modulation of somatic signals, coupled with disrupted discrimination of advantageous and disadvantageous choices.

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