A new study has found that highly anxious individuals exert more cognitive control when they make a risky decision compared with less anxious individuals.

This, in turn, leads to less risky decisions, according to researchers.

For the study, 20 high and 20 low anxious individuals played a risk game while researchers recorded their brain responses via electroencephalogram.

The researchers discovered higher frontal midline theta power in highly anxious individuals during their decisions, which indicates more cognitive control.

Higher frontal midline theta power, in turn, predicted less risky choices, the researchers noted.

“We showed that high anxious individuals also perceived risky situations as riskier, which is in line with the higher amount of cognitive control during their risk choices in the game. Obviously, they try to avoid negative outcomes,” said lead author Dr. Barbara Schmidt of the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena in Germany. “Our study provides a direct link between anxiety, frontal midline theta power, and risky decisions. That is exciting, as it means that frontal midline theta power directly affects behavior.”

The study was published in Psychophysiology.

Source: Wiley