, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 135-148

The psychophysiology of affective verbal and visual information processing in dysphoria

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Skin resistance, corrugator muscle tension, and self-report were used to assess the effect of visually and verbally processing depressive, neutral, and pleasant scenes in 10 dysphoric and 10 nondysphoric college students. The dysphoric students scored above 10 on the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Data were analyzed in a 2 ×2 ×3 (dysphoria group ×type of processing ×scene affect) analysis of variance design. Verbal processing increased autonomic and skeletal arousal more than did visual imaging. Verbal processing was rated more depressing than, and generated more related, visual imaging. Depressive stimuli were rated more vivid and stronger when verbally processed, whereas neutral and pleasant stimuli were rated more vivid when visually imaged. Dysphoric subjects showed low resting autonomic arousal, and less muscular but more autonomic arousal to stimulation than nondysphoric subjects. The BDI correlated .75 with the Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale (hence “dysphoria”). The relationship of these findings to current issues in psychopathology, assessment, cognitive-behavior therapy, and cognitive theory was discussed.