Programs

Back
Kyoto Hall - Marinela

Cognitive Bias Modification: Exploring the role of emotional state and novel approaches to increase effects on bias and anxiety

Patrick Clarke, Lies Notebaert, Elske Salemink Speaker

A long line of research suggests that biased information processing plays a crucial role in the onset and maintenance of anxiety. Many studies investigated whether training paradigms called ‘Cognitive Bias Modification’ (CBM) could modify these cognitive biases and thereby reduce anxiety symptoms. Promising findings have been observed, however, there are also more mixed findings. CBM has the potential to be used as an experimental tool to test causal relationships as well as a therapeutic tool to reduce anxiety. For both goals, increased understanding of the conditions under which CBM is most effective is strongly needed. In this symposium, two promising novel avenues to improve CBM will be presented: 1) to match the emotional context in which biases are experienced to the context during training and 2) to increase participants’ engagement as current paradigms are experienced as repetitive and monotonous. Mae Nuijs (University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands) investigated whether the emotional state and arousal during training moderated the effects of CBM on bias and anxiety reactivity. Patrick Clarke (Curtin University, Australia) investigated whether a gaze-contingent CBM using an operant learning eye-tracking approach is effective in reducing bias and anxiety. Lies Notebaert (University of Western Australia, Australia) investigated whether a new gamified version of CBM was more effective than the conventional CBM in improving bias and anxiety reactivity. In an international collaboration with the Universities of Kent and Kyoto, Elske Salemink (University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands) investigated whether training experience and effectiveness can be improved by using Virtual Reality technology.

1. Msc. Mae Nuijs 2. Dr. Patrick Clarke 3. Dr. Lies Notebaert 4. Dr. Elske Salemink

1. Developmental Psychology at the University of Amsterdam 2. School of Psychology at the Curtin University 3. School of Psychological Science at the University of Western Australia 4. Developmental Psychology at the University of Amsterdam

First presenter:

Title of talk

The effect of state anxiety on the efficacy of a single session of visual search training in students with subclinical social anxiety

 

Presenter name

Mae Nuijs

 

Professional affiliations

University of Amsterdam

 

Abstract

Background: An attentional bias for socially threatening stimuli have been suggested to play a role in the etiology and maintenance of social anxiety. Cognitive Bias Modification for Attention (CBM-A) aims to reduce this attentional bias and thereby reduce anxiety. Recent meta-analyses suggest that the context in which CBM-A is offered, including the emotional state during training, moderates the effect of CBM-A. This study aims to investigate whether elevated levels of state anxiety prior and during training increase the effectiveness of a single session of CBM-A in reducing attentional bias, stress reactivity, and post-event processing. Method: We randomly assigned 78 students (Mage = 21.92, SD = 2.55; 75.9% female) with subclinical social anxiety scores on the SPAI-18 (M = 62.79, SD = 12.14) to visual search CBM-A or placebo training. Prior to training, participants randomly received either anxiety or placebo inductionin order to manipulate state anxiety.Attentional bias was assessed pre- and post-training. Stress reactivity was assessed in response to a speech task one day after training and post-event processing was assessed the day after the speech task. Self-reported arousal was assessed before, during, and after training. Results: The results of this study will be presented at the EABCT conference.

 

Second presenter:

Title of talk

Believing is Seeing: Boosting the Interpretation Bias Modification effects on anxiety by using a mobile Virtual Reality tool

 

Presenter name

Elske Salemink

 

Professional affiliations

University of Amsterdam & University of Utrecht

 

Abstract

Cognitive Bias Modification of Interpretations (CBM-I) is a computerized intervention designed to change negatively biased interpretations of ambiguous information, which underlie and reinforce anxiety. The repetitive and monotonous features of CBM-I can negatively impact on training adherence and learning processes. We examined whether performing a CBM-I training using mobile Virtual Reality technology (VR-CBM-I) improves training experience and effectiveness. Forty-two students high in trait anxiety completed one session of either the VR-CBM-I or a standard CBM-I training. The VR-CBM-I outperformed the standard training in effects on state anxiety and emotional reactivity. In addition, the VR-CBM-I resulted in greater feelings of immersion in the training scenarios, which were positively correlated with changes in the emotional outcomes. Both training-varieties successfully changed interpretations. These findings hold promise for VR as a tool to boost the effects of CMB-I training for anxious individuals.

 

Third presenter:

Title of talk

Game on! Testing the effectiveness of Face Hero, a novel gamified Cognitive Bias Modification for Attention (CBM-A) paradigm.

 

Presenter name

Lies Notebaert (lies.notebaert@uwa.edu.au)

 

Professional affiliations

Centre for the Advancement of Research on Emotion, School of Psychological Science, University of Western Australia

 

Abstract

Cognitive Bias Modification for Attention (CBM-A) is a promising therapeutic tool aimed at changing patterns of attentional selectivity associated with clinical anxiety. A number of studies have implemented CBM-A using the traditional modified dot-probe paradigm. Results however are mixed, and highlight the need to develop novel, more effective CBM-A tasks. This presentation presents a novel CBM-A task, Face Hero, which was developed by adopting gaming principles from the popular game Guitar Hero. In Face Hero, participants are encouraged to anticipate the location of a discrepant face in an array of cascading faces. Half of the participants were exposed to a training condition in which the discrepant face was happy (encouraging avoidance of angry faces), whereas the other half of participants were exposed to a training condition in which the discrepant face was angry (encouraging vigilance for angry faces). The effectiveness of Face Hero in producing a group difference in attentional bias was compared to that of a traditional probe-based task. Results showed that the magnitude of the group difference in attentional bias following Face Hero training was larger than the group difference in attentional bias following probe-based training. Future research directions and potential clinical applications will be discussed.

 

Fourth presenter:

Title of talk

The impact of neurostimulation on cognitive bias and emotional vulnerability: Examining the potential modulating role of emotion regulation during stimulation

 

Presenter name

Patrick Clarke

 

Professional affiliations

School of Psychology, Curtin University

 

Abstract

Emerging research is suggesting that neurostimulation (such as transcranial direct current stimulation - tDCS) targeting cortical areas implicated in emotional pathology may reduce emotional vulnerability by modifying cognitive biases known to operate in anxiety and depression. Further evidence indicates that the emotional effects of tDCS may also be dependent on intentional cognitive processes operating during stimulation, whereby tDCS may reduce or increase emotional reactivity depending on an individual’s emotion regulation goals. In the present study we examine whether the effects of tDCS on emotional reactivity to stress is carried by its effect on cognitive biases (biased attention for threat and biased interpretation), and whether such effects are moderated by emotion regulation strategies adopted during tDCS delivery. Across four conditions, participants received active or sham tDCS (between-groups) while viewing emotionally negative images under instruction to either not regulate or down-regulate (between-groups) their emotional reactions. The effects of these conditions on cognitive bias (biased attention and interpretation) and emotional reactivity to a subsequent stress task were assessed. The findings to be reported on this study carry potential implications for enhancing cognitive bias change, and for the use of tDCS as an intervention in anxiety.