Restriction of working memory capacity during worry

J Abnorm Psychol. 2008 Aug;117(3):712-7. doi: 10.1037/a0012908.


The authors report the first direct assessment of working memory capacity when people engage in worry. High and low worriers performed a random key-press task while thinking about a current worry or a positive personally relevant topic. High (but not low) worriers showed more evidence of restricted capacity during worry than when thinking about a positive topic. These findings suggest that high worriers have less residual working memory capacity when worrying than when thinking about other topics and, thus, have fewer attentional resources available to redirect their thoughts away from worry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Memory Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Memory Disorders / psychology
  • Memory, Short-Term*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires