Attentional bias training in depression: Therapeutic effects depend on depression severity

Ghent University, Department of Psychology, Henri Dunantlaan 2, B-9000 Gent, Belgium.
Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 2.23). 02/2010; 41(3):265-74. DOI: 10.1016/j.jbtep.2010.02.004
Source: PubMed


Depressed individuals show maintained attention to negative information and reduced attention for positive information. Selective biases in information processing are considered to have an important role in the origin, maintenance and recurrence of depressive episodes. In two experiments we investigated the effects of attentional bias manipulation on mood and depressive symptoms. In experiment 1 we investigated the effects of attentional bias manipulation compared to a control procedure in a sample of dysphoric students (N = 48) showing mild to severe levels of depressive symptoms. In experiment 2 we investigated the same attentional training procedure in a sample of depressed in- and outpatients (N = 35). Mild improvements on symptom severity were observed in students showing mild depressive symptoms. However, in students showing moderate to severe depressive symptoms, depressive symptoms increased after the training. No beneficial effects of training on top of therapy and/or medication were found in depressed patients. These results indicate that therapeutic effects of attentional bias modification might be dependent on depression severity.

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    • "i . e . , by using an implicit instead of an explicit tool ) and to focus on attention bias in MA . For that , we developed a novel computerized numerical version of the well established dot probe task ( MacLeod et al . , 1986 ) , which has been proven to be a highly reliable tool in the assessment and even treatment of general anxiety ( e . g . , Baert et al . , 2010 ) . We hypothesized that math anxious individuals would react faster when the probe is at the location of the threat / numerical related prime ( e . g . , based on Bar - Haim , 2010 ) . That is , as in the typical dot probe task , faster reaction times ( RTs ) when probes appear in the locus of numerical primes , will point to selective"
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    ABSTRACT: Cognitive theory from the field of general anxiety suggests that the tendency to display attentional bias toward negative information results in anxiety. Accordingly, the current study aims to investigate whether attentional bias is involved in math anxiety (MA) as well (i.e., a persistent negative reaction to math). Twenty seven participants (14 with high levels of MA and 13 with low levels of MA) were presented with a novel computerized numerical version of the well established dot probe task. One of six types of prime stimuli, either math related or typically neutral, was presented on one side of a computer screen. The prime was preceded by a probe (either one or two asterisks) that appeared in either the prime or the opposite location. Participants had to discriminate probe identity (one or two asterisks). Math anxious individuals reacted faster when the probe was at the location of the numerical related stimuli. This suggests the existence of attentional bias in MA. That is, for math anxious individuals, the cognitive system selectively favored the processing of emotionally negative information (i.e., math related words). These findings suggest that attentional bias is linked to unduly intense MA symptoms.
    Frontiers in Psychology 11/2015; 6:1539. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01539 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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    • "CBM-A studies of clinically depressed adolescents would nevertheless be of interest. Thirdly, Posner's cueing task has shown promise in the modification of attention biases in depressed adults, albeit with positive effects on symptom severity emerging following a post-hoc analysis (Baert et al., 2010), as in the current study. "
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    ABSTRACT: Adolescence is a vulnerable time for the onset of depression. Recent evidence from adult studies suggests not only that negative attention biases are correlated with symptoms of depression, but that reducing negative attention biases through training can in turn reduce symptomology. The role and plasticity of attention biases in adolescent depression, however, remains unclear. This study examines the association between symptoms of depression and attention biases, and whether such biases are modifiable, in a community sample of adolescents. We report data from 105 adolescents aged 13–17 who completed a dot-probe measure of attention bias before and after a single session of visual search-based cognitive bias modification training. This is the first study to find a significant association between negative attention biases and increased symptoms of depression in a community sample of adolescents. Contrary to expectations, we were unable to manipulate attention biases using a previously successful cognitive bias modification task. There were no significant effects of the training on positive affect and only modest effects of the training, identified in post-hoc analyses, were observed on negative affect. Our data replicate those from the adult literature, which suggest that adolescent depression is a disorder associated with negative attention biases, although we were unable to modify attention biases in our study. We identify numerous parameters of our methodology which may explain these null training effects, and which could be addressed in future cognitive bias modification studies of adolescent depression.
    PeerJ 10/2015; 3(7):e1372. DOI:10.7717/peerj.1372 · 2.11 Impact Factor
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    • "In the training group, to draw participants' attention away from the threatening stimuli, all probes appeared onscreen in the same position as the preceding positive term. In the control group, participants performed the traditional dot-probe task in which the amount of probes appearing in the screen locations previously occupied by positive and threatening terms were equal (Baert et al., 2010). Each training session consisted of 288 trials, which were presented in 12 blocks. "
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    ABSTRACT: Attentional training has been used to modify attentional bias patterns in anxious individuals. This study examined the effect of attentional training on anxious archers' information processing using electrophysiological indices. Eighteen experienced archers with relatively high levels of competitive anxiety were assigned to either a training group or a control group. The training group received a 6-week attentional training protocol that was designed to switch attention away from threats, whereas the control group participated in a placebo training. The results revealed a smaller P1 difference wave for the training group in the posttest compared with pretest, whereas no change in N1 amplitude was found after training. The P1 difference wave finding suggests that more similar visual attentional resources were invested in probes replacing positive cues compared with probes replacing threatening cues after attentional bias training. In particular, archers who accepted training deployed similar attention resources to threatening and positive stimuli but those who accepted sham training avoided attention from threatening stimuli.
    International journal of psychophysiology: official journal of the International Organization of Psychophysiology 09/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2015.09.001 · 2.88 Impact Factor
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