Anxiety in Children and corresponding Error-Related Negativity
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The following experimental study explored the relationship between anxiety and ERN. This review of literature will also explore the predictive validity of ERN on anxiety symptoms. One-hundred and eighty-eight participants each conducted two cognitive tasks while the experimenters conducted electroencephalograph data (EEG) on the participant as they completed the exercises. First, the participant was dressed with the fitted cap with electrical ports used to collect the EEG data. Then, they were given instructions on how to use the monitor and computer to complete both tasks, and then were left alone in the experimental room to complete 8 rounds total for each task with 20 trials per round. Through the cognitive tasks, the participants were tested on attentional control and motor inhibition to study the relationship between anxiety and ERN. With EEG data, ERN values were calculated for two distinct age groups of children: 1) Younger children (72 participants) between the ages of 3 and 7 years old; 2) Older children (116 participants) between the ages of 8 and 13 years old. Results of the study are consistent with the literature: There were no significant relationships between anxiety and ERN for the motor inhibition task for both age groups at both 0-0.2 and 0.2-0.4 seconds after the participant error. Participant error refers to when the participant makes a mistake during the cognitive task. There were also no significant relationships between anxiety and ERN for the attentional control task in the younger children’s category both at 0-0.2 secs after the error was made and at 0.2-0.4 secs after the error was made. Furthermore, there was no significant relationship between anxiety and ERN in the older children’s category at 0-0.2 seconds after the error was made. The only significant association found in this study was a negative correlation between anxiety and ERN in older children 0.2-0.4 seconds after the error was made during the attentional control tasks. This finding is consistent with literature as it explains the error processing period that occurs immediately after a mistake has been made (0.0-0.2 seconds after mistake). These results explain how long error-processing takes to occur and at what age ERN starts to emerge; understanding error-processing time and the age of ERN emergence can be useful for treating and diagnosing anxiety in older children and young adults.