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The Role of Mental Imagery in Depression: Negative Mental Imagery Induces Strong Implicit and Explicit Affect in Depression.

Görgen SM, Joormann J, Hiller W, Witthöft M - Front Psychiatry (2015)

Bottom Line: Mental imagery, seeing with the mind's eyes, can induce stronger positive as well as negative affect compared to verbal processing.Given this emotion-amplifying effect, it appears likely that mental images play an important role in affective disorders.Interestingly, the two groups did not differ in implicitly assessed affect after positive imagery, indicating that depressed individuals might benefit from positive imagery on an implicit or automatic level.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz , Mainz , Germany.

ABSTRACT
Mental imagery, seeing with the mind's eyes, can induce stronger positive as well as negative affect compared to verbal processing. Given this emotion-amplifying effect, it appears likely that mental images play an important role in affective disorders. According to the subcomponents model of depression, depressed mood is maintained by both negative imagery (which amplifies negative mood) and less efficient positive imagery processes. Empirical research on the link between mental imagery and affect in clinical depression, however, is still sparse. This study aimed at testing the role of mental imagery in depression, using a modified version of the affect misattribution procedure (AMP) and the self-assessment manikin (SAM) to assess implicit (AMP) and explicit (SAM) affect elicited by mental images, pictures, and verbal processing in clinically depressed participants (n = 32) compared to healthy controls (n = 32). In individuals with a depressive disorder, compared to healthy controls, negative mental images induced stronger negative affect in the explicit as well as implicit measure. Negative mental imagery did not, however, elicit greater increases in explicitly and implicitly assessed negative affect compared to other processing modalities (verbal processing, pictures) in the depressed group. Additionally, a positive imagery deficit in depression was observed in the explicit measure. Interestingly, the two groups did not differ in implicitly assessed affect after positive imagery, indicating that depressed individuals might benefit from positive imagery on an implicit or automatic level. Overall, our findings suggest that mental imagery also plays an important role in depression and confirm the potential of novel treatment approaches for depression, such as the promotion of positive imagery.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Means and SEs of the explicit (SAM, scale: 1–5) and implicit affect ratings (AMP, scale: 1–4) after verbal processing (counting syllables), mental imagery, and looking at pictures of negative, neutral, and positive stimuli for the depressed group (DG). *p < 0.05; **p < 0.01; ***p < 0.001.
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Figure 2: Means and SEs of the explicit (SAM, scale: 1–5) and implicit affect ratings (AMP, scale: 1–4) after verbal processing (counting syllables), mental imagery, and looking at pictures of negative, neutral, and positive stimuli for the depressed group (DG). *p < 0.05; **p < 0.01; ***p < 0.001.

Mentions: To further test the hypotheses (i.e., the emotion-amplifying effect of mental imagery in depression) and to clarify this three-way interaction, we computed separate 3 (condition) × 3 (valence) ANOVAs for each group. In the depressed group, the ANOVA showed a significant interaction of condition by valence, F(2.89, 89.57) = 14.37, p < 0.001, In contrast to hypothesis 1, mental imagery and verbal processing of negative stimuli did not differ significantly regarding their emotional impact, t(31) = 0.15, p = 0.882, d = 0.02, and negative pictures elicited significantly greater increases in negative affect than negative imagery, t(31) = 4.39, p < 0.001, d = 0.52. Consistent with hypothesis 2, we found no significant difference in the emotional responses to positive imagery and verbally processed positive stimuli, t(31) = 0.50, p = 0.623, d = 0.06, and positive pictures elicited stronger positive affect than positive mental images, t(31) = 3.25, p < 0.01, d = 0.38. Comparing pictures and verbal processing, negative and positive pictures elicited more negative and positive affect than verbally processed negative and positive stimuli, ts(31) ≥ 3.83, ps ≤ 0.01, ds ≥ 0.47. For neutral stimuli, there were no significant differences between the conditions, ts(31) ≤ 1.24, ps ≥ 0.23, ds ≤ 0.17. Means of the affective ratings after verbal processing, mental imagery and looking at pictures for the depressed group are illustrated in Figure 2.


The Role of Mental Imagery in Depression: Negative Mental Imagery Induces Strong Implicit and Explicit Affect in Depression.

Görgen SM, Joormann J, Hiller W, Witthöft M - Front Psychiatry (2015)

Means and SEs of the explicit (SAM, scale: 1–5) and implicit affect ratings (AMP, scale: 1–4) after verbal processing (counting syllables), mental imagery, and looking at pictures of negative, neutral, and positive stimuli for the depressed group (DG). *p < 0.05; **p < 0.01; ***p < 0.001.
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Related In: Results  -  Collection

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Figure 2: Means and SEs of the explicit (SAM, scale: 1–5) and implicit affect ratings (AMP, scale: 1–4) after verbal processing (counting syllables), mental imagery, and looking at pictures of negative, neutral, and positive stimuli for the depressed group (DG). *p < 0.05; **p < 0.01; ***p < 0.001.
Mentions: To further test the hypotheses (i.e., the emotion-amplifying effect of mental imagery in depression) and to clarify this three-way interaction, we computed separate 3 (condition) × 3 (valence) ANOVAs for each group. In the depressed group, the ANOVA showed a significant interaction of condition by valence, F(2.89, 89.57) = 14.37, p < 0.001, In contrast to hypothesis 1, mental imagery and verbal processing of negative stimuli did not differ significantly regarding their emotional impact, t(31) = 0.15, p = 0.882, d = 0.02, and negative pictures elicited significantly greater increases in negative affect than negative imagery, t(31) = 4.39, p < 0.001, d = 0.52. Consistent with hypothesis 2, we found no significant difference in the emotional responses to positive imagery and verbally processed positive stimuli, t(31) = 0.50, p = 0.623, d = 0.06, and positive pictures elicited stronger positive affect than positive mental images, t(31) = 3.25, p < 0.01, d = 0.38. Comparing pictures and verbal processing, negative and positive pictures elicited more negative and positive affect than verbally processed negative and positive stimuli, ts(31) ≥ 3.83, ps ≤ 0.01, ds ≥ 0.47. For neutral stimuli, there were no significant differences between the conditions, ts(31) ≤ 1.24, ps ≥ 0.23, ds ≤ 0.17. Means of the affective ratings after verbal processing, mental imagery and looking at pictures for the depressed group are illustrated in Figure 2.

Bottom Line: Mental imagery, seeing with the mind's eyes, can induce stronger positive as well as negative affect compared to verbal processing.Given this emotion-amplifying effect, it appears likely that mental images play an important role in affective disorders.Interestingly, the two groups did not differ in implicitly assessed affect after positive imagery, indicating that depressed individuals might benefit from positive imagery on an implicit or automatic level.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz , Mainz , Germany.

ABSTRACT
Mental imagery, seeing with the mind's eyes, can induce stronger positive as well as negative affect compared to verbal processing. Given this emotion-amplifying effect, it appears likely that mental images play an important role in affective disorders. According to the subcomponents model of depression, depressed mood is maintained by both negative imagery (which amplifies negative mood) and less efficient positive imagery processes. Empirical research on the link between mental imagery and affect in clinical depression, however, is still sparse. This study aimed at testing the role of mental imagery in depression, using a modified version of the affect misattribution procedure (AMP) and the self-assessment manikin (SAM) to assess implicit (AMP) and explicit (SAM) affect elicited by mental images, pictures, and verbal processing in clinically depressed participants (n = 32) compared to healthy controls (n = 32). In individuals with a depressive disorder, compared to healthy controls, negative mental images induced stronger negative affect in the explicit as well as implicit measure. Negative mental imagery did not, however, elicit greater increases in explicitly and implicitly assessed negative affect compared to other processing modalities (verbal processing, pictures) in the depressed group. Additionally, a positive imagery deficit in depression was observed in the explicit measure. Interestingly, the two groups did not differ in implicitly assessed affect after positive imagery, indicating that depressed individuals might benefit from positive imagery on an implicit or automatic level. Overall, our findings suggest that mental imagery also plays an important role in depression and confirm the potential of novel treatment approaches for depression, such as the promotion of positive imagery.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus