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    Investigating neurocognitive mechanisms of adolescent vulnerability to emotional disorder via experimental methods and cognitive training in typically developing adolescents

    Beloe, Patricia Catherine (2022) Investigating neurocognitive mechanisms of adolescent vulnerability to emotional disorder via experimental methods and cognitive training in typically developing adolescents. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    The aim of this thesis was to examine mechanisms involved in cognitive vulnerability to emotional disorder in adolescence through the lens of Attentional Control Theory (ACT; Eysencket al., 2007) integrated with the Strength Model of Control (Baumeisteret al., 1998;2018),and investigate the use of attentional control training to reduce vulnerability to emotional disorder in typically developing adolescents. Study 1 used behavioral and ERP methods to investigate the differential age effects of resource depletion on negative thought proliferations, examining the association between the Error Related Negativity (ERN), an electrophysiological measure of compensatory control during depletion, and subsequent emotional reactivity. Findings indicated no effect of cognitive depletion on emotional reactivity, however an elevated ERN predicted higher emotional reactivity in adults contrasted with a converse association in adolescents. Moreover, a larger ERN also predicted burnout and worry increases in adolescents18 months later. Study 2 explored the efficacy of computerized working memory training to boost processing efficiency and adolescent emotional resilience. Study 2’s findings showed training improved working memory performance and was instrumental in immediate and sustained reductions in self-reported anxiety and depression symptoms in the training group relative to active controls. Study 3 aimed to replicate study 2’s finding in adolescent worriers, exploring more extensive behavioral and emotional vulnerability measures. It also explored neural correlates of training transfer, with the ERN as the primary neural outcome, plus several other ERP markers of cognitive control relevant to emotion processing. Although working memory performance improved, there were no significant group effects of training transfer to internalizing symptoms, emotional regulation, inhibitory control, behavioral interference or neural outcomes post-training or 3-months later. Nevertheless, the rate of training improvement was associated with declining anxiety symptoms from pre-training to follow-up and decreased P(e) amplitudes, an ERP involved in performance monitoring and associated with the motivational significance of errors. P(e) reductions were in turn associated with lower worry, rumination and depression at follow-up. Findings suggested it was possible to reduce anxiety and depression symptoms in typically developing adolescents using a low cost computerized training intervention targeting attentional control. However, the efficacy of training in reducing emotional vulnerability may not be consistent, with training transfer to emotional and neurocognitive processing subject to individual differences in training responsivity. The findings also provide novel insight into a potential neurocognitive mechanism underlying vulnerability to the onset and maintenance of emotional disorder which may modulate susceptibility to negative thought proliferation and is subject to developmental differences. These findings have implications for developing interventions to reduce the burden of mental health problems in adolescence, in addition to general relevance for cognitive models of psychopathology.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2022 09:53
    Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 15:24


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