Failures of executive function when at a height:Negative height-related appraisals are associated with poor executive function during a virtual height stressor

Newman, Vera and Liddell, Belinda and Most, Steven B. and Beesley, Tom (2020) Failures of executive function when at a height:Negative height-related appraisals are associated with poor executive function during a virtual height stressor. Acta Psychologica, 203. ISSN 0001-6918

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Abstract

It is difficult to maintain cognitive functioning in threatening contexts, even when it is imperative to do so. Research indicates that precarious situations can impair subsequent executive functioning, depending on whether they are appraised as threatening. Here, we used virtual reality to place participants at ground level or at a virtual height in order to examine the impact of a threat-related context on concurrent executive function and whether this relationship was modulated by negative appraisals of heights. Executive function was assessed via the Go/NoGo and N-Back tasks, indexing response inhibition and working memory updating respectively. Participants with negative appraisals of heights exhibited impaired executive function on both tasks when performing at a virtual height (i.e., a threat-related context) but not at ground-level, demonstrating the importance of considering the cognitive consequences of individual differences in negative interpretations of emotionally-evocative situations. We suggest that a virtual reality approach holds practical benefits for understanding how individuals are able to maintain cognitive ability when embedded within threatening situations.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Acta Psychologica
Additional Information:
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Acta Psychologica. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Acta Psychologica, 203, 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2019.102984
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/3200/3205
Subjects:
ID Code:
139518
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
10 Dec 2019 12:05
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
06 Jul 2020 01:41