New Research From Clinical Psychological Science

Read about the latest research published in Clinical Psychological Science:

The Method of Loci Improves Longer-Term Retention of Self-Affirming Memories and Facilitates Access to Mood-Repairing Memories in Recurrent Depression

Aliza Werner-Seidler and Tim Dalgleish

Studies have shown that recalling self-affirming memories can improve negative mood. Researchers investigated whether a mnemonic technique called the method of loci, in which memories are visualized as occurring along a familiar path, might offer an effective strategy that patients in remission from depression could use to recall such self-affirming memories. Participants were trained in using the method of loci over several sessions and were tested 3 months later on their ability to recall positive memories. Participants who learned to recall memories using the mnemonic technique outperformed participants in a control group who were told to rehearse their memories in a standard way. The results also confirmed that recall of positive memories helped subjects improve their mood after they had been induced to feel sadness in the laboratory. Together, the findings indicate that the method of loci may be a useful mnemonic technique for clinical use.

The Potential Benefits of Targeted Attentional Bias Modification on Cognitive Arousal and Sleep Quality in Worry-Related Sleep Disturbance

Bronwyn Milkins, Lies Notebaert, Colin MacLeod, and Patrick J. F. Clarke

Nights spent tossing and turning may cause insomniacs to experience anxiety over losing sleep. Ironically, intrusive thoughts about a lack of sleep may exacerbate insomnia by triggering cognitive arousal at bedtime. Participants who self-reported difficulty sleeping completed a computer-based intervention designed to shift attention away from anxiety-inducing thoughts. A pair of words evoking either negative or neutral emotions related to insomnia briefly flashed on the screen; a dot probe then appeared where one of the words had been. The subjects pressed a key to indicate which word the dot appeared closest to. Over the course of 6 nights, subjects alternated between an experimental version, in which the dot always appeared near the neutral word, and a control version, in which the dot was randomized. On nights when subjects completed the experimental version, they reported falling asleep faster than they did on nights when they completed the control task.

Participant Characteristics as Modifiers of Response to N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Jerome Sarris, Georgina Oliver, David A. Camfield, and Olivia M. Dean

The drug N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) has been proposed as a potential treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), but data from a 12-week double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study published by Sarris and colleagues in 2015 did not show NAC to be any more effective than a placebo. In this follow-up, the researchers reanalyzed data from the 2015 study to examine whether characteristics of individual participants may have interacted with the treatment to moderate its effects. The analyses indicated that younger participants — those under the age of 34 — responded more favorably to treatment than did older participants. In addition, participants who had experienced OCD symptoms for less time prior to the study showed larger treatment effects than did those whose symptoms had lasted longer. The authors propose studying the effects of NAC over longer periods of time and at higher doses as two avenues for further research.

This article is part of the “Special Series on Nutrition and Mental Health.”

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