The effect of emotional working memory training on emotional and cognitive outcomes in individuals with elevated social anxiety

Simone A. du Toit, Saif A. Kade, Craig T. Danielson, Susanne Schweizer, Jin Han, Michelle Torok, Quincy J. J. Wong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Although cognitive-behavioural therapy is the gold standard psychological treatment for individuals with social anxiety disorder (SAD), it does not benefit everyone. Emotional working memory training (eWMT) is a promising alternative intervention. This study examined the effects of eWMT versus control training (CT) on emotional and cognitive outcomes in individuals with elevated social anxiety. Methods: Forty participants with elevated social anxiety were randomly allocated to eWMT (n = 21) or CT (n = 19), each consisting of six training sessions. At pre- and post-training, participants completed: a working memory task, an impromptu speech, and self-reported measures of emotional and cognitive outcomes (anticipatory processing, peak anxiety and attentional focus during the speech, post-event processing). Results: Participants in both training conditions exhibited performance improvements on their respective training tasks. As expected, there was a Time x Condition interaction for peak anxiety, reflecting a decrease in peak anxiety for the eWMT condition but not the CT condition. Exploratory analyses also indicated a Time x Condition interaction for an aspect of post-event processing, reflecting a decrease in thinking about the past for the eWMT condition but not the CT condition. Limitations: Although the level of social anxiety of the current sample is comparable to that of samples of individuals diagnosed with SAD in the literature, participant diagnoses were not assessed in this study. Conclusions: The findings suggest that eWMT has potential as an alternative intervention for individuals with elevated social anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-83
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Volume261
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • social anxiety disorder
  • social phobia
  • working memory training
  • treatment

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