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Project: Understanding cognitive vulnerability for depression: A network analysis of the role of cognitive control in emotion regulation processes

2018-10-01 – 2021-09-30

Abstract

Prevention of recurrence of depression is an important societal challenge. There is need for
fundamental research focusing on mechanisms underlying depression vulnerability. Recent studies
show that cognitive control training (CCT) procedures hold potential in improving emotion
regulation (ER) in at-risk and patient samples, providing evidence for the causal involvement of
cognitive control in depression vulnerability. However, these studies yielded limited knowledge
regarding how cognitive control affects complex patterns of depression vulnerability. The aim of
this project is to improve our understanding of the involvement of cognitive control in ER, taking
into account time-varying dynamics and contextual attunement. Using network analysis, we first
model how specific characteristics of rumination interact to predict distress in daily life, and how
cognitive control is involved in this process. Second, we test central theoretical frameworks of ER,
exploring (a) whether cognitive control predicts flexible use of ER strategies in daily life, (b) how
this is affected by depression levels, and (c) how fluctuations in cognitive control over time relate
to recurrence of depressive symptoms in remitted depressed (RMD) patients. Finally, we test how
CCT affects ER processes in daily life in RMD patients. This project will provide a detailed insight
into the causal role of cognitive control in depression vulnerability which can inform more
targeted interventions.

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