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Improving attention control in dysphoria through cognitive training: Transfer effects on working memory capacity and filtering efficiency

Authors

  • Max Owens,

    Corresponding author
    • Affective and Cognitive Control Laboratory, Department of Psychological Sciences, Birkbeck, University of London, London, UK
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  • Ernst H. W. Koster,

    1. Department of Experimental Clinical and Health Psychology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
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  • Nazanin Derakshan

    1. Affective and Cognitive Control Laboratory, Department of Psychological Sciences, Birkbeck, University of London, London, UK
    2. St John's College Research Centre, St John's College University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
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  • This work was supported by a PhD studentship awarded to Max Owens at Birkbeck, University of London and carried out under the supervision of Nazanin Derakshan. Nazanin Derakshan is currently a Visiting Research Associate at St John's College Research Centre, University of Oxford. The authors thank Ruben Zamora and Samuel Cheadle for advice programming the training website and dual n-back task.

Address correspondence to: Max Owens, PhD, Affective and Cognitive Control Lab, Department of Psychological Sciences, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HX, UK. E-mail: mowens01@mail.bbk.ac.uk

Abstract

Impaired filtering of irrelevant information from working memory is thought to underlie reduced working memory capacity for relevant information in dysphoria. The current study investigated whether training-related gains in working memory performance on the adaptive dual n-back task could result in improved inhibitory function. Efficacy of training was monitored in a change detection paradigm allowing measurement of a sustained event-related potential asymmetry sensitive to working memory capacity and the efficient filtering of irrelevant information. Dysphoric participants in the training group showed training-related gains in working memory that were accompanied by gains in working memory capacity and filtering efficiency compared to an active control group. Results provide important initial evidence that behavioral performance and neural function in dysphoria can be improved by facilitating greater attentional control.

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