Cognitive control and cortisol response to stress in generalised anxiety disorder: a study of working memory capacity with negative and neutral distractors
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We investigated the association between cognitive control and individual differences in cortisol response to stress in participants with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and in never-disordered controls (CTL). To assess cognitive control, participants completed an affective version of the reading span task, which measures working memory capacity (WMC) in the presence of negative and neutral distractors. Participants then completed a standard psychosocial stressor and provided salivary cortisol samples throughout. The relation between WMC and cortisol response to stress was dependent on diagnostic group and distractor valence. Within the GAD group, greater WMC in the presence of neutral distractors was associated with attenuated cortisol response to stress, and greater WMC in the presence of negative distractors was associated with faster cortisol recovery from stress. In contrast, within the CTL group, WMC was unrelated to cortisol stress reactivity or recovery.
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