Threat and trait anxiety affect stability of gaze fixation

Georgia Laretzaki, Sotiris Plainis, Ioannis Vrettos, Anna Chrisoulakis, Ioannis Pallikaris, Panos Bitsios

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Threat accelerates early visual information processing, as shown by shorter P100 latencies of pattern Visual Evoked Potentials in subjects with low trait anxiety, but the opposite is true for high anxious subjects. We sought to determine if, and how, threat and trait anxiety interact to affect stability of gaze fixation. We used video oculography to record gaze position in the presence and in the absence of a fixational stimulus, in a safe and a verbal threat condition in subjects characterised for their trait anxiety. Trait anxiety significantly predicted fixational instability in the threat condition. An extreme tertile analysis revealed that fixation was less stable in the high anxiety group, especially under threat or in the absence of a stimulus. The effects of anxiety extend to perceptual and sensorimotor processes. These results have implications for the understanding of individual differences in occulomotor planning and visually guided behavior. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)330-336
    Number of pages6
    JournalBiological Psychology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


    • Attention
    • Fixation stability
    • Gaze fixation
    • Threat
    • Trait anxiety


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