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16-03-2016 | Original Article | Uitgave 5/2016 Open Access

Cognitive Therapy and Research 5/2016

Can’t Look Away: An Eye-Tracking Based Attentional Disengagement Training for Depression

Cognitive Therapy and Research > Uitgave 5/2016
Gina R. A. Ferrari, Martin Möbius, Amras van Opdorp, Eni S. Becker, Mike Rinck


To address shortcomings of purely reaction-time based attentional bias modification (ABM) paradigms, we developed an ABM task that is controlled by eye-tracking. This task allows to assess and train both disengagement from negative pictures and maintained attention to positive pictures. As a proof-of-principle study with an unselected student sample, this positive training (PT; N = 44) was compared to a negative training (NT; N = 42), which reinforced the opposite attentional pattern. Importantly, training trials were completed only if participants performed the correct gaze patterns. Results showed that higher depression levels were associated with slower disengagement from negative stimuli at baseline. As expected, the PT induced longer fixations on positive pictures and faster disengagement from negative pictures. The NT showed no changes in attentional processes. The groups did not differ in mood reactivity and recovery from a stressor. Advantages of using eye-tracking in ABM and potential applications of the training are discussed.

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