Auditory and visual memories in PTSD patients targeted with eye movements and counting: The effect of modality-specific loading of working memory

Description

Introduction:
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an evidence-based treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A key element of this therapy is simultaneously recalling an emotionally disturbing memory and performing a dual task that loads working memory. Memories targeted with this therapy are mainly visual, though there is some evidence that auditory memories can also be targeted.

Objective:
The present study tested whether auditory memories can be targeted with EMDR in PTSD patients. A second objective was to test whether taxing the patient (performing a dual task while recalling a memory) in a modality specific way (auditory demanding for auditory memories and visually demanding for visual memories) was more effective in reducing the emotionality experienced than taxing in cross-modality.

Methods:
Thirty-six patients diagnosed with PTSD were asked to recall two disturbing memories, one mainly visual, the other one mainly auditory. They rated the emotionality of the memories before being exposed to any condition. Both memories were then recalled under three alternating conditions [visual taxation, auditory taxation, and a control condition (CC), which comprised staring a non-moving dot] – counterbalanced in order – and patients rerated emotionality after each condition.

Results:
All three conditions were equally effective in reducing the emotionality of the auditory memory. Auditory loading was more effective in reducing the emotionality in the visual intrusion than the CC, but did not differ from the visual load.

Conclusion:
Auditory and visual aversive memories were less emotional after working memory taxation (WMT). This has some clinical implications for EMDR therapy, where mainly visual intrusions are targeted. In this study, there was no benefit of modality specificity. Further fundamental research should be conducted to specify the best protocol for WMT.

Format

Journal

Language

English

Author(s)

Suzy J. M. A. Matthijssen
Liselotte C. M. Verhoeven
Marcel A. van den Hout
Ivo Heitland

Original Work Citation

Matthijssen, S. J. M. A., Verhoven, C. M., van den Hout, M. A., & Heitland, I. (2017, November). Auditory and visual memories in PTSD patients targeted with eye movements and counting: The effect of modality-specific loading of working memory. Frontiers in Psychology. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01937

Collection

Citation

“Auditory and visual memories in PTSD patients targeted with eye movements and counting: The effect of modality-specific loading of working memory,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed October 26, 2020, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/24689.

Output Formats