Ecological assessment of executive dysfunction in anxiety

Luis Coelho Monteiro, Flávia Ferreira


Introduction: The specialized literature states that anxiety can interfere with cognition, particularly in complex cognitive processes such as those related to executive functioning. Neuropsychological studies in anxiety disorders have confirmed the presence of deficits in executive functions, with significant changes in its components. The main aim of this study was to compare the executive performance of a sample with anxiety disorder to a control group, using an instrument that differs from the others by high ecological validity, revealing a higher predictive evidence on daily tasks.

Methods: This study included 60 participants aged between 18 and 53 years that were allocated to an experimental group (n=30; mean = 31.93; standard deviation [SD] =10.99) and a control group (n=30; mean = 29.63; SD=9.07). Anxiety symptoms and the executive functioning were assessed using the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and the Behavioural Assessment of the Dysexecutive Syndrome (BADS), respectively.

Results: Participants with anxiety disorders presented a significant impairment on executive functioning in general. However, we found a significant impact in tasks that involve control inhibition, design of action strategies according to the functionality and probability of success, the ability to predict or estimate and the ability to plan the action. In addition, the EG required significantly more time to execute all the tests (mean = 440.33, SD = 97.17), compared to the CG (mean = 320.90; SD = 51.27).

Conclusions: Individuals with anxiety disorders have a significant impairment in their executive functioning in general, which is reflected in activities of daily living. 

Keywords: Anxiety disorders; executive functions; BADS; cognitive and affective evaluation


Anxiety disorders; executive functions; BADS; cognitive and affective evaluation

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Copyright (c) 2018 Luis Coelho Monteiro, Flávia Ferreira

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ISSN: 2357-9730




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The Clinical & Biomedical Research is licenced under Creative Commons Atribuição 4.0 Internacional.