ANXIETY AND AFFECTIVE CONTEXT MODULATE AWARENESS ï¿¼
Threat awareness is central to anxiety phenomenology. Previous studies have investigated anxious observers' ability to discriminate between different emotions using liminal or subliminal stimuli. Here, we asked whether a stimulus is more likely to access conscious perception in anxious individuals when it is threatening relative to when it is not. Crucially,
the stimuli emotional contents were task-irrelevant.
Anxious individuals required shorter
exposure times to become aware of masked stimuli, irrespective of stimulus valence. However, whereas threat-related stimuli required lower exposure times in high- than in low anxiety individuals irrespective of stimulus context, positive stimuli required lower exposures only when presented among threatening stimuli. Our findings suggest a prominent role for
affective context in anxious individuals' conscious perception of visual stimuli.