Global-local visuospatial attention is a core mechanism which highly affects the way we process our visuospatial environment. The current study aimed to examine the effect of negative emotions on global-local visuospatial processing in participants with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and in healthy controls (HCs). Participants performed two versions of the global-local-arrow task: they were asked to determine the direction (left or right) of the global arrow or of the local arrows that composed it, with or without emotional prime-cues. In the non-emotional task and in the neutral-valence condition of the emotional task, the GAD group did not differ from that of HCs–both groups exhibited a classic global processing bias (reactions to the global dimension were faster and less affected by the local dimension). In the negative-valence condition, global processing bias was only slightly reduced in HCs and almost completely eliminated in the GAD group. The results of the current study suggest that, in non-emotional conditions, global processing bias does not differ significantly between individuals with GAD and HCs. However, task-irrelevant negative cues were found to have a greater impact in reducing global bias for individuals with GAD compared to HCs. Potential implications are discussed.
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- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Global-local processing
- Navon task
- Visuospatial attention