Development of Attention Bias Modification for Depression

2016-08-29 14:10:27 | BioPortfolio


Although negatively biased attention has a central theoretical and empirical role in the maintenance of depression, there are few behavioral treatments that successfully target and improve this deficit. The current proposal builds upon prior work and aims to further develop an attention bias modification intervention. The investigators propose to develop a highly specific intervention that directly targets negative attention bias and the neurobiology that supports it, using cutting-edge cognitive neuroscience to inform treatment development and improve quality of life of patients whose psychopathology is maintained by negative attention bias.


The overall goal of this project is to continue development of an attention bias modification (ABM) intervention that targets and reduces negative attention bias among adults with elevated symptoms of depression. The investigators' prior work indicates that attention bias for negative information is associated with the maintenance of depression and that neural circuitry within frontal-parietal brain networks supports biased attention for negative information, thus allowing us to develop specific and targeted interventions that directly alter the neurobiology of negative attention bias. The proposed R33 study builds upon the investigators' prior National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) funded work (R21MH092430), which examined whether ABM reduces negative attention bias and improves symptoms of depression. Findings indicate that compared to placebo ABM, active ABM reduced negative attention bias and increased resting state connectivity within a neural circuit (i.e., middle frontal gyrus and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex) that supports control over emotional information. Further, change in negative attention bias from pre- to post-ABM was significantly correlated with depression symptom change but only in the active training condition. Importantly, a 40% decrease in symptoms was observed in the active training condition; however, similar symptom reduction was also observed in the "placebo ABM" condition. Exploratory analyses indicated that placebo training may have promoted depression improvement by enhancing sustained attention. Although these preliminary findings are encouraging and demonstrate that ABM successfully alters the treatment target (i.e., negative attention bias), the investigators' prior work is among the first to document efficacy of ABM among adults with clinically significant depression. It is now prudent and necessary to obtain additional efficacy evidence for ABM before moving forward with large-scale clinical trials of ABM for depression. Aim 1 is to conduct a randomized clinical trial among adults with elevated symptoms of depression and a negative attention bias that compares the efficacy of active ABM to cognitive control training and an assessment-only control condition that does not involve any ABM procedures. Aim 2 is to examine whether ABM alters negative attention bias and functional connectivity within frontal-parietal neural circuitry that support negative attention bias. Aim 3 is to identify mechanisms responsible for the putative efficacy of active ABM and cognitive control training. Study Impact: The current project proposes to target and reduce negative attention bias with a novel intervention grounded in basic psychopathology research. The investigators believe this experimental medicine approach will lead to the development of a highly specific and targeted intervention, using cutting-edge cognitive neuroscience to inform treatment development, and improve the quality of life of people whose psychopathology is maintained by negative attention bias.

Study Design

Allocation: Randomized, Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Double Blind (Subject, Outcomes Assessor), Primary Purpose: Treatment




Attention Bias Modification, Cognitive Control Training


Not yet recruiting


University of Texas at Austin

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2016-08-29T14:10:27-0400

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Medical and Biotech [MESH] Definitions

The influence of study results on the chances of publication and the tendency of investigators, reviewers, and editors to submit or accept manuscripts for publication based on the direction or strength of the study findings. Publication bias has an impact on the interpretation of clinical trials and meta-analyses. Bias can be minimized by insistence by editors on high-quality research, thorough literature reviews, acknowledgement of conflicts of interest, modification of peer review practices, etc.

The prototypical tricyclic antidepressant. It has been used in major depression, dysthymia, bipolar depression, attention-deficit disorders, agoraphobia, and panic disorders. It has less sedative effect than some other members of this therapeutic group.

Any deviation of results or inferences from the truth, or processes leading to such deviation. Bias can result from several sources: one-sided or systematic variations in measurement from the true value (systematic error); flaws in study design; deviation of inferences, interpretations, or analyses based on flawed data or data collection; etc. There is no sense of prejudice or subjectivity implied in the assessment of bias under these conditions.

Any deviation of results or inferences from the truth, or processes leading to such deviation. Bias can result from several sources: one-sided or systematic variations in measurement from the true value (systematic error); flaws in study design; deviation of inferences, interpretations, or analyses based on flawed data or data collection; etc. There is no sense of prejudice or subjectivity implied in the assessment of bias under these conditions.

The use of biological mechanisms, usually involving living organisms such as bacteria, for the reduction or regulation of the population of noxious, destructive, or dangerous pests. Environmental concerns have focused attention on natural forms of disease control as potentially safe and effective alternatives to chemical pesticides. This has led to increased efforts to develop control strategies that rely on natural predators and parasites or that involve genetically engineered microbial pest control agents.

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