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Anxiety disorders and executive functions: A three-level meta-analysis of reaction time and accuracy.

Majeed, N. M., Chua, Y. J., Kothari, M., Kaur, M., Quek, F. Y. X., Ng, M. H. S., Ng, W. Q., & Hartanto, A.



Anxiety disorders, one of the most common classes of psychological disorders, have been shown to result in a decreased quality of life. Although some research suggests that anxiety disorders are linked to impairments in executive functioning, the inconsistency in the current literature yields an unclear conclusion on the relationship between the two. The current meta-analysis systematically investigated 55 records (N = 4601; kReactionTime = 44, kAccuracy = 79) that compared various groups with anxiety disorders to healthy controls on executive function tasks. Overall, our meta-analysis showed that individuals with anxiety disorders exhibited significant deficits in performance efficiency (reaction times) on executive function tasks. However, we also found that individuals with anxiety disorders may outperform their healthy peers in performance effectiveness (task accuracy) in some conditions. Type of anxiety disorders, domain of executive functions, and mediation use were identified to moderate the overall relations between anxiety disorders and executive functioning. Nevertheless, the results were robust across important demographic and other clinical moderators (e.g., anxiety severity and comorbidity).

Keywords: Anxiety disorder, Executive functions, Attentional control theory, Meta-analysis

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