C-lab seminar - mgr Marta Molińska

On Tuesday 22nd of July we will have a special C-Lab seminar with mgr Marta Molińska - our new summer intern - about her doctoral thesis.

Title The influence of anxiety on spatial imagery – the role of working memory

Abstract The study refers to the relation between cognition and emotion. Specifically speaking, it refers to state anxiety and spatial imagery processes in two aspects: (1) object-based transformations which refer to imagined movement relative to an object-based frame of reference (2) egocentric transformations which refer to imagined movement of one’s point of view in relation to the other object. The study has two main goals: (1) exploration of the relation between state anxiety and spatial imagery in order to establish anxiety status as facilitating versus disruptional experience and (2) exploration of individual differences in the aspect of working memory span as an element which can be beneficial for aforementioned mechanism. Both cognitive and evolutionary anxiety theories emphasize its major function - threat detection that enables proper and quick reaction to danger. However, it is still unclear whether anxiety facilitates versus disrupts spatial imagery. According to the Attentional Control Theory developed by Eysenck and collegues (2007) anxiety may influence on two aspects: (1) performance effectiveness – the quality of task performance and (2) processing efficiency – the ratio between effectiveness and one’s effort or resources spent on task. According to the theoretical premises, working memory span can take essential part in this mechanism. As Eysenck suggests, anxiety may lead to adequate performance effectiveness but poor efficiency due to one’s psychological costs. Worry, which is cognitive component of anxiety, draws one’s attention to the threat and distracts it from the goal. In consequence, an individual has less cognitive resources to spend on spatial imagery task. Due to the lack of satisfying amount of studies in this area it is also unclear whether anxiety influence on object-based and egocentric spatial imagery transformations in the same way. The only premises indicate that experiencing anxiety involves rather egocentric than object based perspective as well as egocentric perspective in anxiety helps to perform task faster than egocentric perspective. In order to solve those problems, the experiment will be conducted. There are very few experimental studies in this area and still they are not conclusive. Additionally, most studies in the aspect of anxiety and cognitive processes are narrowed to dispositional anxiety, not state anxiety.