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Worry refers to the experience of uncontrollable negative thoughts. Cognitive models suggest that the combination of negative information processing biases along with diminished attentional control contribute to worry. In the current study we investigate whether promoting a) adaptive interpretation bias and b) efficient deployment of attentional control would influence the tendency to worry. Worry-prone individuals (n = 60) received either active cognitive bias modification for interpretation bias (CBM-I) combined with sham working memory training (WMT), adaptive WMT combined with sham CBM-I, or sham WMT combined with sham CBM-I. Neither of the active training conditions reduced worry during a breathing focus task relative to the control condition. However, when considering inter-individual differences in training-related improvements, we observed a relation between increases in positive interpretation bias and a decrease in negative intrusions. Moreover, increases in working memory performance were related to a reduction in reactivity of negative intrusions to a worry period. Our findings show that facilitating a more benign interpretation bias and improving working memory capacity can have beneficial effects in terms of worry, but also highlight that transfer related gains from existing training procedures can be dependent upon improvement levels on the training task.

Original publication

DOI

10.1016/j.brat.2018.01.005

Type

Journal article

Journal

Behav res ther

Publication Date

04/2018

Volume

103

Pages

1 - 11

Keywords

Anxiety, Attentional control, Cognitive bias modification, Interpretation bias, Working memory training, Worry