No Health without Mental Health: European Clinical Psychology Takes Responsibility
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Mechanisms and processes involved in depression

Session chair: Kornacka, Monika, Dr.
Shortcut: S13
Date: Friday, 1 November, 2019, 8:30 a.m.
Room: HS2
Session type: Symposia


8:30 a.m. S13-01

Does abstract rumination make our attention less flexible?Attentional processes in repetitive negative thinking – an experimental eye-tracking study. (#99)

M. Kornacka1, 2, C. Douilliez3, I. Krejtz1

1 SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Psychology, Warszawa, Poland
2 Univ. Lille, EA 4072 - PSITEC - Psychologie: Interactions Temps Émotions Cognition, Lille, France
3 University of Louvain, Psychological Sciences Research Institute, Louvain, Belgium

Structured Abstract


Repetitive negative thinking (RNT) is a transdiagnostic process involved in mood and anxiety disorders. One of the hypotheses explaining the onset and maintenance of RNT links this process to attentional biases (Whitmer & Gotlib, 2013). The aim of the present study was to test how an experimental induction of different forms of RNT affects attention.


Forty-one patients suffering from mood and/or anxiety disorders and 76 healthy controls were randomly allocated to an (1) abstract, (2) concrete RNT or (3) distraction induction. They further performed a matrix task with eye-tracking recording. They were asked to complete a sentence I am with either positive or negative word chosen from a circular matrix composed of 5 negative, 5 positive and 5 neutral words. Participants were instructed to compose 6 positive and 6 sentences. Participant’s affect was measured before and after the induction procedure.


Participants in the distraction group showed lower emotional reactivity compared to those in abstract or concrete RNT. Eye-tracking data showed a significant interaction between induction condition, word type (positive, negative, neutral) and type of sentence (positive, negative) on average fixation duration. The effect of the participant’s status (clinical vs. healthy controls) was not significant. Bonferroni post-hoc comparison suggested that participants in concrete and distraction condition had longer fixations on the words congruent with the valence of sentences that they were composing.


Although concrete and abstract RNT had a similar impact on emotional reactivity, they showed a differential impact on participants’ attentional processes. It seems that concrete RNT enhanced the flexibility of attentional processes and adjustment to the ongoing task. This effect was not observed after abstract RNT induction.


Keywords: rumination, attention, repetitive negative thinking, eye-tracking
8:45 a.m. S13-02

Internal attentional dyscontrol in mental health (#136)

I. Amir1, L. Ruimi1, A. Bernstein1

1 University of Haifa, Psychology, Haifa, Israel

Structured Abstract

The study of internal attention and its dysregulation has evaded direct cognitive-experimental study for decades. Despite the theorized functional importance of internal attention (to thoughts) and external attention (to sensory information) in cognitive vulnerability and mental health, research has focused almost exclusively on the latter. We thus developed the Simulated Thoughts Paradigm (STP) to simulate the content and experience of thinking. STP is grounded in embodied cognition accounts of verbal thought as well as behavioral, phenomenological and cognitive neuroscience of own-voice perception and self-representations. Utilising STP we present participant’s own idiographic negative (or neutral) self-referential thoughts (NSRT), sentences recorded in their own voice (e.g., “I am a failure”), as stimuli within cognitive-experimental tasks. In Study 1, we examined the role of attentional disengagement from NSRT in mental health. Consistent with theory, we found evidence of serial multiple mediation wherein (1) emotional reactivity to NSRT predicts (2) degree of difficulty disengaging internal attention from those thoughts which predicts (3) degree of cognitive vulnerability (e.g., negative repetitive thinking) which predicts (4) degree of anxiety and depression symptomatology. In Study 2 we examined the role of biased selective internal attention to NSRT. We found similar evidence for serial multiple mediation between emotional reactivity, biased selective internal attention, cognitive vulnerability and symptomatology. These studies and findings have implications for theoretical models of internal attentional (dys)control in cognitive vulnerability and methodological approaches for experimental study. Moreover, although we focused on internal attentional processes in mental health, this STP and findings may have implications for basic cognitive science understanding of attention and working memory, spontaneous thought and mindwandering, as well as mindfulness.

Keywords: attention, repetitive negative thinking, emotional reactivity, rumination
9:00 a.m. S13-03

The role of music and mentalization processes in the severity of depression symptoms in the adolescence period. (#141)

W. B. Łubińska-Salej1

1 University of Gdańsk, Institute of Psychology, Gdańsk, Poland

Structured Abstract


The present study aim is to characterize the role of music and the processes of mentalization in the intensification of depression symptoms in adolescence.

We assume that music reduces the severity of depression symptoms in adolescents through enhancement of their ability to mentalize. Several dimensions of mentalization may be associated with youth depression. However, one can expect higher intensity of depressive symptoms in three areas of adolescents’ mentalization deficits: an overconcern with the mental states of others, overinterpretation of others’ mental states, and over-interpretation of their own mental states.


The study design consists of two stages: cross- sectional study and longitudinal study. In the cross-sectional study, the proposed model of relationship between variables assumes that the low level of mentalization is a predictor and risk factor for the severity of depression symptoms in adolescents, whereas contact with music is a mediator (and protective factor) in the development of psychopathology. Longitudinal study assumes an analysis of changes in the level of intensity of depression symptoms in relation to music functions and particular aspects of mentalization, occurring over about 6 months in two groups of adolescents. The research has the character of a correlation study.


This presentation will discuss the results of a cross- sectional study involving a group of over 100 adolescents aged between 12-18 years.


The expected effect of the research will be to check whether the music actually increases the ability to mentalize, thereby reducing the severity of symptoms of depression. In addition, the results of the analyzes carried out can illustrate which areas of mentalization deficits are associated with the severity of depression symptoms, as well as characterize which functions of music are particularly useful in reducing specific symptoms of depression.


Keywords: music functions, mentalization, depression symptoms
9:15 a.m. S13-04

Advancing understanding of autobiographical fluency deficits in depression:  A focus on specific versus categoric retreival (#150)

B. Dritschel1

1 University of St Andrews, Psychology and Neuroscience, St Andrews, United Kingdom

Structured Abstract


  1. individuals have difficulty retrieving specific memories, often producing a categoric memory when a specific memory is requested. A specific memory is a memory for a contextualized experience occurring at a particular time and place. A categoric memory refers to a memory for a collection of events. However there has been no examination of how the fluency of retrieving specific versus categoric memories varies across lifetime periods for depressed versus non-depressed individuals. The current study examined this question in a sample of thirty depressed and 30 non-depressed university students. Participants were asked to retrieve as many specific and categoric memories as possible within 60 seconds for events that occurred in primary school, secondary school and the past six months respectively. Quantitative and qualitative differences were found between depressed and non-depressed groups for both specific and categoric fluency. In particular the clinically depressed group significantly fewer specific and categoric memories than the non-depressed group across all lifetime periods. The memories were also rated for valence and a valence effect was found for specific memories only. The depressed participant’s memories were rated as being significantly more negative. The greatest negativity was found for the secondary school period. Further we examined the flexibility in shifting from one theme to another in the memories. The depressed participants recollections were associated with less flexibility in the themes reported. The lack of flexibility was more pronounced in the specific autobiographical memories although still present categoric memories. The implications of reduced fluency for the different lifetime periods are discussed in terms of their implications for social functioning.
Keywords: depression, autobiographical memory