Cognitive Bias Modification Using Mental Imagery for Depression: Developing a Novel Computerized Intervention to Change Negative Thinking Styles
Lang TJ., Blackwell SE., Harmer CJ., Davison P., Holmes EA.
Why do some people see their glass as half-empty rather than half-full or even imagine that the glass will be filled in the future? Experimental methods can illuminate how individual differences in information processing style can profoundly impact mood or even result in disorders such as depression. A computerized cognitive bias modification intervention targeting interpretation bias in depression via positive mental imagery (CBM-I) was evaluated by investigating its impact on mental health and cognitive bias compared with a control condition. Twenty-six depressed individuals completed either positive imagery-focussed CBM-I or a control condition daily at home over one week. Outcome measures were collected pre-treatment and post-treatment and at two-week follow-up. Individuals in the positive condition demonstrated significant improvements from pre-treatment to post-treatment in depressive symptoms, cognitive bias and intrusive symptoms compared with the control condition. Improvements in depressive symptoms at two-week follow-up were at trend level. The results of this first controlled comparison of positive imagery-focussed CBM-I for depression further support the clinical potential of CBM-I and the development of a novel computerized treatment that could help patients imagine a more positive future. Broader implications concern the modification of individual differences in personality variables via their interaction with key information processing targets. © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.