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dc.contributor.authorBrowning, Michael
dc.identifier.citationOverman, M.J., Browning, M. & O’Shea, J. Inducing Affective Learning Biases with Cognitive Training and Prefrontal tDCS: A Proof-of-Concept Study. Cogn Ther Res (2020).en
dc.descriptionThis article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
dc.description.abstractCognitive models of mood disorders emphasize a causal role of negative affective biases in depression. Computational work suggests that these biases may stem from a belief that negative events have a higher information content than positive events, resulting in preferential processing of and learning from negative outcomes. Learning biases therefore represent a promising target for therapeutic interventions. In this proof-of-concept study in healthy volunteers, we assessed the malleability of biased reinforcement learning using a novel cognitive training paradigm and concurrent transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). Methods In two studies, young healthy adults completed two sessions of negative (n = 20) or positive (n = 20) training designed to selectively increase learning from loss or win outcomes, respectively. During training active or sham tDCS was applied bilaterally to dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Analyses tested for changes both in learning rates and win- and loss-driven behaviour. Potential positive/negative emotional transfer of win/loss learning was assessed by a facial emotion recognition task and mood questionnaires. Results Negative and positive training increased learning rates for losses and wins, respectively. With negative training, there was also a trend for win (but not loss) learning rates to decrease over successive task blocks. After negative training, there was evidence for near transfer in the form of an increase in loss-driven choices when participants performed a similar (untrained) task. There was no change in far transfer measures of emotional face processing or mood. tDCS had no effect on any aspect of behaviour. Discussion and Conclusions Negative training induced a mild negative bias in healthy adults as reflected in loss-driven choice behaviour. Prefrontal tDCS had no effect. Further research is needed to assess if this training procedure can be adapted to enhance learning from positive outcomes and whether effects translate to affective disorders.en
dc.description.sponsorshipSupported by the NIHRen
dc.subjectDepressive Disordersen
dc.titleInducing Affective Learning Biases with Cognitive Training and Prefrontal tDCS: A Proof-of-Concept Studyen

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