Reduced representations capacity in visual working memory in trait anxiety

Senqing Qi, Jie Chen, Glenn Hitchman, Qinghong Zeng, Cody Ding, Hong Li, Weiping Hu

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Neural processes that support individual differences in trait anxiety and the amount of representations in visual-spatial working memory (WM) are currently unclear. We measured the contralateral delay activity (CDA) in a lateralized change detection task to explore this question. Different levels of memory load were varied within each block. Despite their unimpaired behavioral performance, individuals with high traitanxious(HTA) displayed several changes in the neuronal markers of the memory processes. The CDA amplitudes reached asymptote at loads of three and four items for HTA and low traitanxious(LTA) individuals, respectively. This result indicates that HTA individuals reach the upper limit of representation capacity with a smaller memory load than LTA individuals. Furthermore, the smaller CDA amplitudes in HTA individuals under high memory loads could be attributed to less contralateral cortical activity, which further indicates that HTA individuals are associated with reduced representations of taskrelevantitems in WM.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-99
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Psychology
Early online date23 Aug 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014


  • Trait anxiety
  • Working memory
  • Contralateral delay activity (CDA)
  • Attentional control theory


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