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"For the experiment, we used a questionnaire to select 20 high anxious and 20 low anxious participants," explains Dr Barbara Schmidt of the University of Jena, who led the project. "During the actual experiment, the participants had to turn one of two cards in each trial of a risk game. In each trial, they could win a maximum of 11 cents. The important point was that they had to decide between two risk options: a high-risk option in which they could win either 11 cents or zero cents, and a low-risk option in which the test person could win either five or six cents. The expected value of 5.5 cents was always the same." In the experiment, high anxious participants chose the low-risk option more often.
But the key finding of the study resulted from a glance at the EEG recorded during the experiment. While the participants decided which of the two risk options they want to choose, a specific type of brain activity -- frontal midline theta power -- was especially high. "Previous research had already shown that this brain activity is particularly pronounced in anxious people, but until now we did not know what effect it had on behaviour," said psychologist Schmidt....
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