Effects of a neurobehavioral intervention for depressive and obsessive-compulsive symptoms
Calkins, Amanda W.
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Novel neurobehavioral interventions have been increasingly used to address attention, memory, and executive functioning in mood and anxiety disorders. One such intervention, Cognitive Control Training (CCT), was developed to improve cognitive control and attentional abilities. CCT has shown promise as an intervention in severely depressed patients, with improvement in depression and rumination symptoms. The current series of experimental studies was designed to examine the bounds of the effects of CCT on mood and cognition, in comparison to a control condition: peripheral vision task (PVT), targeting visual rather than cognitive control. Appropriate to CCT's development as an intervention for emotional disorders, two studies included two diagnostic groups--one with high depression symptoms and one with high obsessive-compulsive (OC) symptoms--and examined the effects ofthree sessions of CCT or PVT (with 48 participants in study 1 and study 2 randomized to one of the training conditions) on symptom outcome measures. The third study, with the OC group (n = 22), looked at the effect of CCT on a related biological variable, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). The hypotheses were that relative to PVT, engaging in three sessions of CCT would be associated with greater decreased negative mood in the first study, greater reduction in OC symptoms in the second study, and greater increases in BDNF levels in the third study. The results partially supported these hypotheses. In the first study, significant large effect sizes favoring CCT over PVT were found for symptoms of depression (d = 0.73, p < 0.05), indicating CCT was effective in reducing negative mood. In the second study, there was no significant difference between groups on the primary outcome measure; CCT was ineffective in reducing OC symptoms. Nonetheless, some support for mood effects for CCT was provided by significant differences in affect scores. In the third study, there were no group differences in BDNF, but within the CCT group (only) there was a correlation of decreased depressed mood and increased BDNF levels. Overall, these studies indicate that CCT has more reliable effects on mood outcomes than on OC symptoms; further application of CCT for mood disorders is encouraged.
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