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Cognitive Control Training for Depression

This study has been completed.
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Boston University Identifier:
First received: October 13, 2011
Last updated: October 14, 2011
Last verified: October 2011
Depression is frequently characterized by patterns of inflexible, maladaptive, and ruminative thinking styles; these patterns themselves are thought to result from a combination of decreased attentional control, decreased executive functioning, and increased negative affect. Specifically, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex has been hypothesized to play a central role in emotion regulation by recruiting resources necessary for executive control. Recent advances have been made in neurobehavioral training strategies as interventions for emotional disorders such as depression. Cognitive control training (CCT) uses computer-based exercises to recruit and activate prefrontal neural networks via repeated behavioral exercises, with the aim of strengthening cognitive and emotional functions. A previous study found that severely depressed participants who received CCT exhibited reduced negative affect and rumination as well as improved focus and concentration. The present study aimed to extend this line of research by employing a more stringent control group and testing the efficacy of three sessions of CCT over a two-week period in a community population with depressed mood. Forty-eight participants with high BDI-II scores were randomized to CCT or a comparison condition (Peripheral Vision Training; PVT). The investigators hypothesized that relative to a control condition (PVT), CCT would be associated with less self-reported negative mood and emotional reactivity.

Condition Intervention
Other: Cognitive Control Training
Other: Peripheral Vision Task

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Open Label
Primary Purpose: Basic Science

Further study details as provided by Boston University:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Change in Beck Depression Inventory [ Time Frame: two weeks ]
    Change score in BDI was assessed between CCT and PVT groups.

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Change in Positive and Negative Affective Scale (PANAS) [ Time Frame: two weeks ]
    We looked at the change scores in positive and negative affectivity between CCT and PVT groups.

  • Emotional Response and Recovery Task [ Time Frame: two weeks ]
    We looked at the emotional responses to IAPS images between CCT and PVT groups.

  • Changes in Visual Analog Scales [ Time Frame: two weeks ]
    We looked at the change scores in visual analog scales (happy/sad) between CCT and PVT groups.

Enrollment: 56
Study Start Date: July 2010
Study Completion Date: June 2011
Primary Completion Date: June 2011 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Experimental: Peripheral Vision Task
During this task participants viewed a circular array of 15 discs and were asked to move their attention, but not their eyes, clockwise around the array while auditory tones were presented. Following the presentation of a distinct target tone, the discs changed color and participants reported the color of the disc by pressing a designated button on the keyboard. This task was developed to be a non-active control condition, targeting visual and occipital areas of the brain, and therefore allows us to discriminate between the effects of completing a computer-based task from interventions that specifically target the PFC.
Other: Peripheral Vision Task
Three sessions of PVT.
Experimental: Cognitive Control Training
Cognitive Control Training (CCT) A modified version of the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Task (PASAT) and the Attention Control Intervention were used to train participants' attentional control in accordance with procedures used by Siegle and colleagues.
Other: Cognitive Control Training
Three sessions of CCT.


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years to 65 Years   (Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes

Inclusion Criteria:

  • BU students and local community members.
  • At least 18 years of age.
  • Familiarity with a computer keyboard.
  • BDI-II score ≥ 17

Exclusion Criteria:

  • BDI-II score < 17, or > 35
  Contacts and Locations
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Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT01454141

United States, Massachusetts
Boston University
Boston, Massachusetts, United States, 02215
Sponsors and Collaborators
Boston University
  More Information

Responsible Party: Boston University Identifier: NCT01454141     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: BU-2182E
Study First Received: October 13, 2011
Last Updated: October 14, 2011

Keywords provided by Boston University:
Depressed mood

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Depressive Disorder
Behavioral Symptoms
Mood Disorders
Mental Disorders processed this record on April 26, 2017