Attentional Control Theory Essay

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arbitrary inference, negative automatic thoughts activate pathological anxiety (Burns, 1989). As reported by behaviorism, anxiety is learned through classical conditioning (in which a neutral stimulus acquires meaning through association with a crucial stimulus) and maintained through operant conditioning (in which avoidance from the negative experience of anxiety plays eventually a key role in its increase) (Mowrer, 1947). Moreover, the new field of neurobiology contributed to the deeper understanding of anxiety but in a more biological aspect. It has been proved that brain chemistry and brain function or dysfunctions respectively can alter thoughts, emotions and behaviors. So, when an individual perceives an information or stimulus from the environment as threatening, the levels of many neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, GABA and…show more content…
The goal directed (top-down) system is influenced by individuals’ current goals, expectations and knowledge and keeps attention to the task, while the stimulus-driven (bottom-up) attentional system is influenced by salient stimuli (Corbetta & Shulman, 2002). Many studies indicate that in individuals with high levels of anxiety the balance between these two systems can be affected and consequently altered (Corbetta & Shulman, 2002; Bishop et al, 2004). So, there is an increase in the function of the ‘’bottom-up stimulus-driven system’’, while there is a decrease in the use of the ‘’top-down goal-driven system’’, or stated in other words, attention is distracted by threatening stimuli and individuals with high levels of anxiety have not enough resources for the task at hand. Taking everything into consideration, it can be stated that anxiety does influence and impair the overall function and capacity of attentional system (Corbetta & Shulman,

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