Adolescence often is characterized by the onset of social anxiety and risk taking; yet, not all youth are anxious and/or risk takers. There are several factors that may help differentiate youth with anxiety (e.g., threat sensitivity and emotion dysregulation) and youth who take risks (e.g., impulsivity and emotion dysregulation). We conducted a latent class analysis to identify groups of youth who differ in these processes, and then investigated group differences on the error-related negativity, an ERP that has been differentially associated with threat sensitivity and impulsivity.
Youth (N = 1313, M = 11, range = 8-15 years) completed a survey assessing their emotion dysregulation, sensitivity to threat, and impulsivity. A subsample (N = 424) also completed a go/no-go task while EEG was recorded.
Four groups were identified with differential levels of emotion dysregulation, sensitivity to threat, and impulsivity. Adolescents had greater odds than children of being in the High_Dysregulation/ThreatSensitivity or ModerateDysregulation/HighImpulsivity Groups in comparison to two other groups with lower scores. The High_Dysregulation/ThreatSensitivity Group had the largest ERN, while the ModerateDysregulation/HighImpulsivity Group had the smallest ERN. The ERN may be a potential biomarker to help distinguish between different profiles of adolescents who may be at risk for either anxiety or risk taking.

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