One line of NijCa²re’s research is aimed at factors that contribute to the development and maintenance of anxiety disorders. Cognitive theories assume that cognitive processes, such as involved in attention, interpretation and memory, play an important role in their aetiology (origin) and persistence. An individual suffering from continued excessive anxiety has a strong tendency to direct his/her attention mainly at threatening information (e.g. someone with a spider phobia is disproportionately alert of spiders), to interpret information as threatening (where an innocent little spider is perceived as dangerous) and to remember anxiety-related information best (earlier encounters with spiders in the basement). In this context, we at NijCa²re seek to answer the following questions: What role do cognitive processes have in the aetiology (development) of anxiety disorders? Do specific cognitive processes create a vulnerability that prevents some patients from benefiting (sufficiently) from treatment? Can cognitive biases (maladaptive cognitive patterns) be modified by education and training?
Researchers at NijCa²re contribute to the search for neurobiological mechanisms of emotion regulation in healthy people and people diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. With the aid of various brain-imaging techniques such as EEG, ERP, fMRI, and TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) the effects of hormones (e.g. the stress hormone cortisol) on emotion-regulation processes in the brain are being investigated.