“There are people who think dwelling on their emotions is helpful, viewing it as a kind of wrestling match with their inner demons. But according to psychologists, it’s the demons who are coming out on top. Rumination has been proved to distract people from their problems and make them depressed.
Now, Israeli psychology researchers have shown that a computer program they developed decreases rumination and the resulting blues by strengthening the brain’s control over emotion…A version of the training used in the study could one day allow people to treat their own depression and other mental disorders using a computer or mobile device…The training was designed to engage the brain’s cognitive control mechanism — which is involved in attention, reasoning and language comprehension — to limit the distracting influence of sad information. Similar cognitive-bias training has achieved impressive results treating anxiety.”
Study: Linking Executive Control and Emotional Response — A Training Procedure to Reduce Rumination (Clinical Psychological Science; requires subscription).
- Abstract: Rumination, a maladaptive self-reflection, is a risk factor for depression, thought to be maintained by executive control deficits that impair ruminators’ ability to ignore emotional information. The current research examined whether training individuals to exert executive control when exposed to negative stimuli can ease rumination. A total of 85 participants were randomly assigned to one of two training conditions. In the experimental condition activation of executive control was followed predominantly by the presentation of negative pictures, whereas in the control condition it was followed predominantly by neutral pictures. As predicted, participants in the experimental group showed reduced state rumination compared with those in the control group. Furthermore, trait rumination, and particularly its maladaptive subtype brooding, was associated with increased sadness only among participants in the control group, and not in the experimental group. We argue that training individuals to exert executive control when processing negative stimuli can alleviate ruminative thinking and rumination-related sad mood.