State anxiety and information processing: A 7.5% carbon dioxide challenge study

Kayleigh E. Easey, Jon C. Catling, Christopher Kent, Coral Crouch, Sam Jackson, Marcus R. Munafò, Angela S. Attwood*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
354 Downloads (Pure)


We used the 7.5% carbon dioxide model of anxiety induction to investigate the effects of state anxiety on simple information processing. In both high- and low-anxious states, participants (n = 36) completed an auditory–visual matching task and a visual binary categorization task. The stimuli were either degraded or clear, so as to investigate whether the effects of anxiety are greater when signal clarity is compromised. Accuracy in the matching task was lower during CO2 inhalation and for degraded stimuli. In the categorization task, response times and indecision (measured using mouse trajectories) were greater during CO2 inhalation and for degraded stimuli. For most measures, we found no evidence of Gas × Clarity interactions. These data indicate that state anxiety negatively impacts simple information processing and do not support claims that anxiety may benefit performance in low-cognitively-demanding tasks. These findings have important implications for understanding the impact of state anxiety in real-world situations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)732-738
Number of pages7
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number2
Early online date1 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018

Structured keywords

  • Memory
  • Cognitive Science
  • Physical and Mental Health


  • Anxiety
  • Auditory perception
  • Human factors
  • Visual perception


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