An investigation into the eye movement component of the eye movement desensitization reprocessing technique in relation to the working memory model
The Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) procedure, developed by Shapiro (1989), has been reported as a rapid and effective treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It focuses on the symptoms ofre-experiencing the traumatic event through intrusive memories, flashbacks and nightmares. The procedure requires the individual to hold several aspects of the traumatic experience in mind whilst tracking the therapist's finger from left to right. In this way several sets of rapid eye movements accompany the traumatic memory. As a result the vividness of the aversive imagery begins to fade, as does the associated distress. It is the eye movement and the decline in the traumatic imagery that was of interest in this study. It was hypothesized that eye movements reduced the vividness of the image by disrupting the function of the visuo-spatial scratch pad (VSSP) of working memory and as a consequence reduced the associated distress. Therefore, a secondary task, already shown to have the effect of disrupting information being held on the VSSP,(ie. a tapping procedure), would also be expected to have the same result when performed concurrently with traumatic imagery. A secondary task (ie. counting) which makes no demands on the VSSP, but instead requires the processing resources of the articulatory loop (AL) of working memory, would not be effective in the reduction of image vividness and distress. Using a between subject design 15 clients, suffering from PTSD or PTSD-Iike symptoms, were randomly assigned to one of three experimental conditions; ElIDR, Tapping or Counting. Each subject was required to concentrate on the traumatic image, thought and bodily sensations whilst performing the concurrent task assigned to them. This was repeated five times within the one experimental session and ratings for image vividness and distress were taken. The results were counter to the predictions, only the Counting group showed a significant decline in vividness and distress ratings although the other two groups showed a trend in this direction. Therefore, the hypothesis regarding the role of the VSSP was not supported although the involvement of working memory was not ruled out and this study provides some interesting proposals for future research. ID
Original Work Citation
Sedgwick, J. (1995). An investigation into the eye movement component of the eye movement desensitization reprocessing technique in relation to the working memory model. (Doctoral dissertation, University of East Anglia). Retrieved from http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?did=2&uin=uk.bl.ethos.296871
“An investigation into the eye movement component of the eye movement desensitization reprocessing technique in relation to the working memory model,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed September 24, 2021, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/22420.