Children with anxiety disorders have been suggested to possess a specific cognitive scheme that underscores negative information and leads to the formation of a negative view of themselves and of the world. The aim of the present study was to assess the neuropsychological processes of children and adolescents with anxiety disorders, as compared to healthy matched controls. Nineteen children (6-18 years) with anxiety disorders and 14 age-matched healthy controls participated in the study. Both groups scored within normal range on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised (WISC-R). All children underwent neuropsychological assessment with the California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT) (Verbal Processing), the Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure test (ROCF) (Nonverbal Processing), and the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) (Executive Functions). The anxiety group scored lower than the control group on all measures of the CVLT and had a significantly greater number of errors, perseverative responses, and incorrect answers after negative feedback on the WCST. No differences were detected for the ROCF. We conclude that in children and adolescents, anxiety disorders may be associated with lowered linguistic abilities and cognitive flexibility, as measured by neuropsychological paradigms. Anxiety does not appear to be associated with nonverbal processes. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.
- Anxiety disorders