A novel process-based approach to improve resilience : Effects of computerized mouse-based (gaze) contingent attention training (MCAT) on reappraisal and rumination

Stress dysregulation is a transdiagnostic marker of emotional disorders, related to biases in attention toward negative information. We adapted a computerized process-based training targeting these attention mechanisms through mouse-based contingency responses and examined its effects on reappraisal and rumination. Forty-one participants were randomly assigned to either a control or an active training condition of mouse-based contingent attention training (MCAT). Participants in the active condition were instructed to allocate attention toward positive words to generate positive interpretations, by using attention regulation while receiving contingent feedback on their attention to emotional words. Participants in the control condition freely generated interpretations without receiving contingent feedback. Transfer to reappraisal and state rumination was evaluated by administering an emotion regulation paradigm before and after the training. Mouse-based attention estimations showed a high degree of congruency with real eye/gaze-based attention estimations, as measured with eye-tracking performed in parallel. Furthermore, active MCAT resulted in several beneficial effects, including: 
1) a higher attention toward positive over negative information; 
2) an improved reappraisal ability to down-regulate negative emotions, and 
3) a larger state rumination reduction in comparison to the control group. Our findings supports MCAT as a promising way to monitor and train attention, being an innovative instrument for online interventions aimed to improve stress regulation and resilience.


• We tested the role of a novel approach to improve emotion regulation processes.

• A novel mouse-based contingent attention training (MCAT) was used.

• Active MCAT facilitated attention regulation, leading to transfer effects.

• MCAT resulted in improved reappraisal and reduced state rumination.

• MCAT is an important step toward more personalized and advanced interventions.

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Alvaro Sanchez-Lopez; Rudi De Raedt; Jill van Put; Ernst H.W.Koster | 2019
In: Behaviour Research and Therapy ISSN: 0005-7967 | 118 | july | 110-120
Anxiety Symptoms, Attention, Depressive Symptoms, Emotional Regulation, Females, Males, Methodology, Psychotrauma, Resilience, Rumination