Gender differences in the relation between the late positive potential in response to anxiety sensitivity images and self-reported anxiety sensitivity

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© 2018 American Psychological Association. Anxiety sensitivity (AS), or the fear of anxious arousal, is a transdiagnostic risk factor predictive of a wide variety of affective disorders. Whereas AS is widely studied via self-report, the neurophysiological correlates of AS are poorly understood. One specific issue this may help resolve is well-established gender differences in mean levels of AS. The current study evaluated late positive potential (LPP) for images designed to target AS during an emotional picture viewing paradigm. Structural equation modeling was used to examine convergent and discriminant validity for self-report AS and the LPP for AS images, considering gender as a potential moderator. Analyses were conducted in an at-risk sample of 251 community adults (M age = 35.47, SD = 15.95; 56.2% female; 53.6% meeting for a primary Axis I anxiety or related disorder). Findings indicated that the AS image LPP was significantly, uniquely associated with self-report AS, controlling for the LPP for unpleasant images, in females only. Mean levels of AS self-report as well as the AS image LPP were higher in females than in males. These findings provide initial support for the AS image LPP as a useful neurophysiological correlate of AS self-report in females. These findings also provide support for a biological cause for gender differences in AS.

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