Training to Inhibit Negative Content Affects Memory and Rumination
Depressive rumination, the tendency to engage in repetitive self-focus in response to distress, seems to be affected by a variety of cognitive biases that in turn maintain negative emotional states. The current study examined whether the difficulty in inhibiting attention to negative information contributes to rumination and to rumination-related biases in memory. Seventy-nine ruminators underwent a 3-week computer-based training, designed to increase either inhibition of negative words or attention to them. On immediate post-training trials, as well as on 2-week follow-up tests, we found evidence for transfer of inhibition training. Training effects also occurred on session-by-session and post-training measures of state rumination, but not on a measure of trait rumination, assessed 2 weeks later. Finally, participants who were trained to inhibit negative material subsequently showed less negative bias on a memory test. These findings further establish the causal role of biased inhibition in rumination, and substantiate the view of rumination as a habit that encourages people to perceive, interpret, and remember events in a repetitive self-focused manner.
KeywordsRumination Inhibition Memory Cognitive-bias modification Depression
The authors thank Rotem Hasson, Yuval Tal, and Erez Aival for assistance in various phases of the research. This research was supported by a grant from the Binational Science Foundation (BSF 2011267) awarded to Nilly Mor and Paula Hertel. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Shimrit Daches, Department of Psychology, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan 5290002, Israel.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
Shimrit Daches, Nilly Mor and Paula Hertel declare that there is no conflict of interest.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
Research Involving Human and Animal Rights
All procedures performed in in this study, involving human participants, were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee (The University Committee for the Use of Human Subjects in Research Institutional Review Board, The Hebrew University School of Medicine) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
- Beck, A. T., Steer, R. A., & Brown, G. K. (1996). Manual for the Beck Depression Inventory-II. San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corporation.Google Scholar
- Demeyer, I., De Lissnyder, E., Koster, E. H., & De Raedt, R. (2012). Rumination mediates the relationship between impaired cognitive control for emotional information and depressive symptoms: A prospective study in remitted depressed adults. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 50, 292–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Frost, R., & Plaut, D. (2005). The word-frequency database for printed Hebrew. Retrieved from http://word-freq.mscc.huji.ac.il/index.html
- Koster, E. H. W., Marchetti, I., & Mor, N. (2013). The Momentary Ruminative Self-focus Inventory (MRSI): Validation and psychometric evaluation. Paper presented at the meeting of the European Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies, Marrakech, Morocco.Google Scholar
- Lang, P. J., Bradley, M. M., & Cuthbert, B. N. (2008). International affective picture system (IAPS): Affective ratings of pictures and instruction manual. Technical Report A-8. University of Florida, Gainesville, FLGoogle Scholar
- Linville, P. (1996). Attention inhibition: Does it underlie ruminative thought. Advances in Social Cognition, 9, 121–133.Google Scholar
- Neill, W. T. (1977). Inhibitory and facilitatory processes in selective attention. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 3, 444–450.Google Scholar
- Watson, D., & Clark, L. A. (1994). The PANAS-X: Manual for the positive and negative affect schedule—Expanded form. Ames: The University of Iowa.Google Scholar