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Cognit Ther Res. 2017;41(1):73-88. doi: 10.1007/s10608-016-9795-8. Epub 2016 Aug 8.

Mental Imagery-Based Training to Modify Mood and Cognitive Bias in Adolescents: Effects of Valence and Perspective.

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School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham UK.
Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.
Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge, UK.
Oxford Centre for Human Brain Activity, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, London, UK.
Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Solna, Sweden.
Mental Health Research and Treatment Center, Faculty of Psychology, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Bochum, Germany.


Mental imagery has a powerful impact on emotion and cognitive processing in adults, and is implicated in emotional disorders. Research suggests the perspective adopted in mental imagery modulates its emotional impact. However, little is known about the impact of mental imagery in adolescence, despite adolescence being the key time for the onset of emotional dysfunction. We administered computerised positive versus mixed valence picture-word mental imagery training to male adolescent participants (N = 60, aged 11-16 years) across separate field and observer perspective sessions. Positive mood increased more following positive than mixed imagery; pleasantness ratings of ambiguous pictures increased following positive versus mixed imagery generated from field but not observer perspective; negative interpretation bias on a novel scrambled sentences task was smaller following positive than mixed imagery particularly when imagery was generated from field perspective. These findings suggest positive mental imagery generation alters mood and cognition in male adolescents, with the latter moderated by imagery perspective. Identifying key components of such training, such as imagery perspective, extends understanding of the relationship between mental imagery, mood, and cognition in adolescence.


Adolescence; Cognitive bias modification; Cognitive training; Emotion; Field perspective; Mental imagery; Observer perspective; Psychopathology; Scrambled sentences task

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