Modification of cognitive biases related to posttraumatic stress: A systematic review and research agenda

Marcella L. Woud*, Johan Verwoerd, Julie Krans

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

    23 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Cognitive models of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) postulate that cognitive biases in attention, interpretation, and memory represent key factors involved in the onset and maintenance of PTSD. Developments in experimental research demonstrate that it may be possible to manipulate such biases by means of Cognitive Bias Modification (CBM). In the present paper, we summarize studies assessing cognitive biases in posttraumatic stress to serve as a theoretical and methodological background. However, our main aim was to provide an overview of the scientific literature on CBM in (analogue) posttraumatic stress. Results of our systematic literature review showed that most CBM studies targeted attentional and interpretation biases (attention: five studies; interpretation: three studies), and one study modified memory biases. Overall, results showed that CBM can indeed modify cognitive biases and affect (analog) trauma symptoms in a training congruent manner. Interpretation bias procedures seemed effective in analog samples, and memory bias training proved preliminary success in a clinical PTSD sample. Studies of attention bias modification provided more mixed results. This heterogeneous picture may be explained by differences in the type of population or variations in the CBM procedure. Therefore, we sketched a detailed research agenda targeting the challenges for CBM in posttraumatic stress.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)81-95
    Number of pages15
    JournalClinical Psychology Review
    Volume54
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jun-2017

    Keywords

    • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
    • Cognitive biases
    • Cognitive Bias Modification (CBM)
    • Attention
    • Interpretation
    • Appraisal
    • Memory
    • AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL MEMORY SPECIFICITY
    • DOT-PROBE TASK
    • ATTENTIONAL BIAS
    • OVERGENERAL MEMORY
    • IMPLICIT MEMORY
    • TRAUMA MEMORIES
    • RISK-FACTOR
    • DISORDER
    • THREAT
    • DEPRESSION

    Cite this