Inhibitory control and emotion dysregulation: A framework for research on anxiety

Dev Psychopathol. 2019 Aug;31(3):859-869. doi: 10.1017/S0954579419000300. Epub 2019 Apr 10.


While emotional dysregulation is a broad construct, the current paper adopts a narrow approach to facilitate translational neuroscience research on pediatric anxiety. The paper first presents data on an adapted version of the antisaccade task and then integrates these data into a research framework. Data on an adapted version of the antisaccade task were collected in 57 youth, including 35 seeking treatment for an anxiety disorder. Associations were examined between performance on the antisaccade task and (a) age, (b) performance on other cognitive-control tasks (i.e., the stop-signal delay and flanker tasks), and (c) level of anxiety symptoms. Better performance on the antisaccade task occurred in older relative to younger subjects and correlated with better performance on the flanker task. Across the 57 youth, higher levels of anxiety correlated with shorter latency for correct antisaccades. These data can be placed within a three-step framework for translational neuroscience research. In the first step, a narrow index of emotion dysregulation is targeted. In the second step, this narrow index is linked to other correlated indicators of the same underlying narrow latent construct. In the third and final step, associations are examined with clinical outcomes and response to treatment.

Trial registration: NCT00018057.

Keywords: antisaccade task; anxiety eye movements; inhibitory control; latency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology*
  • Child
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Executive Function / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Male
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Saccades / physiology*

Associated data