Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-559fc8cf4f-67gxp Total loading time: 0.353 Render date: 2021-03-06T06:31:48.913Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": false, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true }

The Effects of Prior Cognitive Control Task Exposure on Responses to Emotional Tasks in Healthy Participants

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 November 2010

Amanda W. Calkins
Boston University, USA
Christen M. Deveney
Boston University, USA
Meara L. Weitzman
Boston University, USA
Bridget A. Hearon
Boston University, USA
Greg J. Siegle
University of Pittsburgh, USA
Michael W. Otto
Boston University, USA
E-mail address:


Background: Recent advances have been made in the application of cognitive training strategies as interventions for mental disorders. One novel approach, cognitive control training (CCT), uses computer-based exercises to chronically increase prefrontal cortex recruitment. Activation of prefrontal control mechanisms have specifically been identified with attenuation of emotional responses. However, it is unclear whether recruitment of prefrontal resources alone is operative in this regard, or whether prefrontal control is important only in the role of explicit emotion regulation. This study examined whether exposure to cognitive tasks before an emotional challenge attenuated the effects of the emotional challenge. Aims: We investigated whether a single training session could alter participants' reactivity to subsequent emotional stimuli on two computer-based tasks as well as affect ratings made during the study. We hypothesized that individuals performing the Cognitive Control (CC) task as compared to those performing the Peripheral Vision (PV) comparison task would (1) report reduced negative affect following the mood induction and the emotion task, and (2) exhibit reduced reactivity (defined by lower affective ratings) to negative stimuli during both the reactivity and recovery phases of the emotion task and (3) show a reduced bias towards threatening information. Method: Fifty-nine healthy participants were randomized to complete CC tasks or PV, underwent a negative mood induction, and then made valence and arousal ratings for IAPS images, and completed an assessment of attentional bias. Results: Results indicated that a single-session of CC did not consistently alter participants' responses to either task. However, performance on the CC tasks was correlated on subsequent ratings of emotional images. Conclusions: While overall these results do not support the idea that affective responding is altered by making healthy volunteers use their prefrontal cortex before the affective task, they are discussed in the context of study design issues and future research directions.

Research Article
Copyright © British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies 2010

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.


Amir, N., Beard, C., Burns, M. and Bomyea, J. (2009). Attention modification program in individuals with generalized anxiety disorder, Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 118, 2833.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Amir, N., Weber, G., Beard, C., Bomyea, J. and Taylor, C. T. (2008) The effect of a single-session attention modification program on response to a public-speaking challenge in socially anxious individuals, Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 117, 860868.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Beck, A. T., Steer, R. A. and Brown, G. K. (1996). Manual for the Beck Depression Inventory-II. San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corporation.Google Scholar
Bradley, M. M. and Lang, P. J. (1994). Measuring emotion: the self-assessment mannequin and the semantic differential. Journal of Behavioral Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 25, 4959.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Browning, M., Holmes, E. A., Murphy, S. E., Goodwin, G. M. and Harmer, C. J. (2010). Lateral prefrontal cortex mediates the cognitive modification of attentional bias. Biological Psychiatry, 67, 919925.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Derryberry, D. and Reed, M. A. (2002). Anxiety-related attentional biases and their regulation by attentional control. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 111, 225236.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Drevets, W. C. (1998). Functional neuroimaging studies of depression: the anatomy of melancholia. Annual Review of Medicine, 49, 341361.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Elgamal, S., McKinnon, M., Ramakrishnan, K., Joffe, R.T. and MacQueen, G. (2007). Successful computer-assisted cognitive remediation therapy in patients with unipolar depression: a proof of principle study. Psychological Medicine, 37, 12291238.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Feldner, M. T., Leen-Feldner, E. W., Zvolensky, M. J. and Lejuez, C. W. (2006). Examining the association between rumination, negative affectivity, and negative affect induced by a paced auditory serial addition task. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 37, 171187.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Gronwall, D. M. A. (1977). Paced Auditory Serial-Addition Task: a measure of recovery from concussion. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 44, 367373.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Gross, J. J. and Levenson, R. W. (1995). Emotion elicitation using films. Cognition and Emotion, 9, 87108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gross, J. J. and John, O. P. (2002). Wise emotion regulation. In Barrett, L.F. and Salovey, P. (Eds.), The Wisdom in Feeling: psychological processes in emotional intelligence, motions and social behavior (pp. 297319). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
Gu, B. M., Park, J., Kang, D., Lee, S. J., Yoo, S. Y., Jo, H. J., Choi, C., Lee, J. and Kwon, J. S. (2008). Neural correlates of cognitive inflexibility during task-switching in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Brain: A Journal of Neurology, 131, 155164.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Hazen, R. A., Vasey, M. W. and Schmidt, N. B. (2009). Attention retraining: a randomized clinical trial for pathological worry. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 43, 627633.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Hofmann, S. G., Pollack, M. H. and Otto, M. W. (2006). Augmentation treatment of psychotherapy for anxiety disorders with D-cycloserine. CNS Drug Review, 12, 208217.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Holdwick, D. J. Jr. and Wigenfeld, S. A. (1999). The subject experience of PASAT testing: does the PASAT induce negative mood? Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 143, 273284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Holmes, A. J. and Pizzagalli, D. A. (2008). Response conflict and frontocingulate dysfunction in unmedicated participants with major depression. Neuropsychologia, 46, 29042913.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Lang, P. J., Bradley, M. M. and Cuthbert, B. (1997). International Affective Picture System. Gainesville, Fl: NIMH Center for the Study of Emotion and Attention.Google Scholar
Larsen, R. J. and Diener, E. (1987). Affect intensity as an individual difference characteristic: a review. Journal of Research in Personality, 21, 139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lazeron, R. H., Rombouts, S. A., de Sonneville, L., Barkhof, F. and Scheltens, P. (2003). A paced visual serial addition task for fMRI. Journal of Neurological Sciences, 213, 2934.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Liverant, G. I., Brown, T. A., Barlow, D. H. and Roemer, L. (2008). Emotion regulation in unipolar depression: the effects of acceptance and suppression of subjective emotional experience on the intensity and duration of sadness and negative affect. Behavior Research and Therapy, 46, 12011209.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
MacLeod, C. and Mathews, A. (1988). Anxiety and the allocation of attention to threat. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 40, 653670.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
MacLeod, C., Rutherford, E., Campbell, L., Ebsworthy, G. and Holker, L. (2002). Selective attention and emotional vulnerability: assessing the causal basis of their association through the experimental manipulation of attentional bias. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 111, 107123.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Mathews, A. and MacLeod, C. (2002). Induced processing biases have causal effects on anxiety. Cognition and Emotion, 16, 331354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Meyer, T. J., Miller, M. L., Metzger, R. L. and Borkovec, T. D. (1990). Development and validation of the Penn State Worry Questionnaire. Behavior Research and Therapy, 28, 487495.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Nolen-Hoeksema, S., Morrow, J. and Fredrickson, B. L. (1993). Response styles and the duration of episodes of depressed mood. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 102, 2028.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Ochsner, K. N. and Gross, J. J. (2005). The cognitive control of emotion. Trends in Cognitive Science, 9, 242249.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Ochsner, K. N., Ray, R. D., Cooper, J. C., Robertson, E. R., Chopra, S., Gabrieli, J. D. and Gross, J. J. (2004). For better or for worse: neural systems supporting the cognitive down- and up-regulation of negative emotion. NeuroImage, 23, 483499.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Owen, A. M., Hampshire, A., Grahn, J. A., Stenton, R., Dajani, S., Burns, A. S., Howard, R. J. and Ballard, C. G. (2010). Putting brain training to the test. Nature, 465, 775778.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Papageorgiou, C. and Wells, A. (1998). Effects of attention training on hypochondriasis: a brief case series. Psychological Medicine, 28, 193200.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Papageorgiou, C. and Wells, A. (2000). Treatment of recurrent major depression with attention training. Cognitive Therapy and Behavioral Practice, 7, 407413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pizzagalli, D. A., Iosifescu, D., Hallett, L. A., Ratner, K. G. and Fava, M. (2009). Reduced hedonic capacity in major depressive disorder: evidence from a probabilistic reward task. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 43, 7678.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Ray, R. D., Oschsner, K. N., Cooper, J. C., Robertson, E. R., Gabrieli, J. D. E. and Gross, J. J. (2005). Individual differences in trait rumination and the neural systems supporting cognitive reappraisal. Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience, 5, 156168.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Rottenberg, J., Gross, J. J. and Gotlib, I. H. (2005). Emotion context insensitivity in major depressive disorder. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 114, 627639.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Rottenberg, J., Ray, R. D. and Gross, J. J. (2007). Emotion elicitation using films. In Coan, J. A. and Allen, J. B. J. (Eds.), Handbook of Emotion Elicitation and Assessment (pp. 928). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Siegle, G. J., Steinhauer, S. R., Thase, M. E., Stenger, V. A. and Carter, C. S. (2002). Can't shake that feeling: event-related fMRI assessment of sustained amygdala activity in response to emotional information in depressed individuals. Biological Psychiatry, 51, 693707.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Siegle, G. J., Thompson, W., Carter, C. S., Steinhauer, S. R. and Thase, M. E. (2007). Increased amygdala and decreased dorsolateral prefrontal BOLD response in unipolar depression: related and independent features. Biological Psychiatry, 61, 198209.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Siegle, G. J., Ghinassi, F. and Thase, M. E. (2007). Neurobehavioral therapies in the 21st century: summary of an emerging field and an extended example of cognitive control training for depression. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 31, 235262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Watson, D., Clark, L. A. and Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: the PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 10631070.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Watson, C. and Purdon, C. (2008). Attention training in the reduction and reappraisal of intrusive thoughts. Behavioral and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 36, 6170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wells, A. (1990). Panic disorder in association with relaxation-induced anxiety: an attentional training approach to treatment. Behavior Therapy, 21, 273280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wells, A. (2000). Emotional Disorders and Metacognition Innovative Cognitive Therapy. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
Wells, A., White, J. and Carter, K. (1997). Attention training: effects on anxiety and beliefs in panic and social phobia. Psychological Assessment, 9, 227284.Google Scholar
Submit a response


No Comments have been published for this article.

Full text views

Full text views reflects PDF downloads, PDFs sent to Google Drive, Dropbox and Kindle and HTML full text views.

Total number of HTML views: 16
Total number of PDF views: 98 *
View data table for this chart

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 6th March 2021. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

The Effects of Prior Cognitive Control Task Exposure on Responses to Emotional Tasks in Healthy Participants
Available formats

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

The Effects of Prior Cognitive Control Task Exposure on Responses to Emotional Tasks in Healthy Participants
Available formats

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

The Effects of Prior Cognitive Control Task Exposure on Responses to Emotional Tasks in Healthy Participants
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Your details

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *