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Clinical Trial Summary

This study evaluates the effectiveness of a computer-delivered attention control training as a preventive intervention for remitted depressed patients. Additionally, the investigators aim to increase the effect of this CBM-intervention by adding a psychoeducation module (CBT-intervention). To test this aim, participants will be randomly assigned to one of three conditions: (1) an experimental training condition with prior psychoeducation, (2) an experimental training condition without prior psychoeducation, or (3) a placebo training condition serving as an active control condition.


Clinical Trial Description

According to different theories and empirical research, attention control for external information and cognitive control for internal information play a causal role in cognitive emotion regulation ability, a critically important factor in determining resilience. Recent studies regarding the more specific interplay among these mechanisms in depression highlight the importance of considering attention control in treating impaired emotion regulation processes. These studies tested an interactive attention control training, in which people learned to disentangle scrambled sentences ("life is my party a mess") in a positive way ("my life is a party") by receiving eye tracking-based feedback on attention for positive ("party") vs. negative information ("mess"). Results indicated that participants were better able to reinterpret negative pictures in a positive way. Moreover, reactive attentional and cognitive control (i.e., when actually being confronted with a challenging task or stressor) seem to be influenced by perceived control or expectancy regarding the ability to cope with future stressors (i.e., in anticipation of a challenging task or stressor). More specifically, low perceived control and negative expectation bias with respect to future emotion regulation ability have been shown to result in an increased need for actual control and decreased emotion regulation abilities when actually being confronted with stressors. Based on these findings, it could be assumed that the effects of attention control training - targeting actual controlled emotion regulation processes - may be improved by adding techniques that influence perceived control/expectancy of emotion regulation ability (e.g., psychoeducation).

In the current study, the investigators aim to investigate whether a mouse-gaze based variant of the eye-gaze contingent attention training could be a promising intervention for relapse prevention in people vulnerable to depression. More specifically, the main aim is to explore whether a computer-delivered attention control training can improve depressive symptoms and cognitive emotion regulation ability (e.g., reappraisal ability), thereby increasing resilience in the face of stress, in a RMD (remitted depressed) sample. In addition, it will be explored whether prior psychoeducation may increase this effect.

In each condition, a computer training, consisting of 10 sessions of about 12 minutes each, will be administered to remitted depressed participants. The experimental condition will receive an attention training with mouse-gaze contingent feedback (i.e., mouse-gaze contingent attention training, MCAT), comprising an undirected interpretation task (instruction to unscramble as quickly as possible) as a baseline phase, followed by a positively directed interpretation task (instruction to unscramble always positive self-statements) as a modification phase (MCAT-only condition). The active placebo training will only receive the undirected interpretation task (modification phase identical to baseline phase) without mouse-gaze contingent feedback (MCAT-sham condition). Furthermore, an additional condition will combine the experimental training with a new psychoeducation session (MCAT-combo condition). This psychoeducation will focus on the role of attention processes in generating emotions. As the training tasks, this PSE-session will be self-administered and delivered in a computer-based format, including interactive graphics and video-recordings.

Before (pre-test) and after the intervention (post-test), selective attention bias and emotion regulation will be measured to investigate transfer effects of training. Also, depressive symptomatology and related variables will be assessed at pre- and post-test, as well as at follow-up, 3 and 6 months after the training. ;


Study Design


Related Conditions & MeSH terms


NCT number NCT03548519
Study type Interventional
Source University Ghent
Contact Elien Pieters
Phone +32494294756
Email elien.pieters@ugent.be
Status Recruiting
Phase N/A
Start date May 7, 2018
Completion date June 2019

See also
  Status Clinical Trial Phase
Recruiting NCT03278756 - Online Cognitive Control Training for Remitted Depressed Patients N/A
Completed NCT02407652 - Cognitive Control Training for Remitted Depressed Patients N/A