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People suffering from high anxiety have problems adjusting to uncertain environments and have difficulty making decisions, according to new research.
Researchers at the University of California Berkeley asked volunteers to take tests measuring their decision making skills, which require login based on historical information to decide on new situations.
"Our results show that anxiety may be linked to difficulty in using information about whether the situations we face daily, including relationship dynamics, are stable or not, and deciding how to react," Sonia Bishop, assistant professor of psychology at UC Berkeley, said. "It's a bit like being Alice in Wonderland, trying to work out if the same rules apply or if everything is different and if so, what choices you should make.”
Researchers also asked volunteers to play computer games while measuring pupil dilation. During the game, volunteers chose between two shapes, one of which would result in electric shock. Though avoiding the shock was simple at first since it was associated with the same shape, researchers eventually begin to administer shock randomly. After that, people who were highly anxious had more trouble keeping track of the shapes.
Researchers noted that pupil change was associated with less anxious volunteers, while highly anxious volunteers had less pupil response. Normally, however, the pupil dilates when presented with new information, suggesting that those who are very anxious have trouble processing new information.
“Our findings help explain why anxious individuals may find decision-making under uncertainty hard as they struggle to pick up on clues as to whether they are in a stable or changing situation," Bishop said.
Anxiety disorder is the most common illness is the U.S. It affects around 40 million adults over the age of 18.
Source: Tech Times / Photo CreditL Flickr
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