summary: A new study reports that using mental imagery with teenagers can improve negative rumination. Researchers have reported that mental imagery can help ameliorate negative emotions and regulate the nervous system.
The researchers couldn’t answer why mental imagery was so effective, but imagery was more immersive, required more effort, produced a greater emotional response, and was therefore more effective. I hypothesized that it would create a distraction.
sauce: Oregon State University
A recent study from Oregon State University found that refocusing on mental images can be more effective than verbal thinking for adolescents who may be stuck in a negative thought spiral. I have found it to be refreshing.
Short-term distractions can break the thought spiral, leaving space to seek help from a therapist, friend, or parent, says study author Hannah Lawrence, an assistant professor of psychology at OSU’s College of the Liberal Arts. has said.
“When you get stuck thinking about negative things that happened in the past, it makes you feel worse and makes it harder to control your emotions and control your body,” Lawrence said.
“We want to connect people to more comprehensive strategies and skills that can help them get out of these thought patterns.”
Lawrence runs the Translational Imagery, Depression and Suicide (TIDES) Lab at OSU, studying risk factors and developing effective interventions for depression in adolescents.
“These negative things happen to all of us. Knowing up front what tools to pack in your toolbox can help you curb your emotional reactions in the moment and help you get out of those loops.” It’s enough to get you out of it, and it helps break the deadlock,” she said.
Research published in Affective Disorder Journal, aimed to determine which forms of negative rumination – verbal thinking or image-based thinking – caused greater declines in adolescent participants’ emotions or general mood. Also, what kind of thinking was more effective in distracting them and getting them out of their negative moods?
The 145 participants, aged 13 to 17 years, were recruited from rural New England communities where Lawrence conducted a research study. This group was predominantly Caucasian and 62% female. Participants also completed a depression questionnaire, indicating that approximately 39% of the group experienced an increase in symptoms of depression clinically.
The researchers began by inducing negative moods in teenage participants using an online game designed to create feelings of alienation. (After the participants completed the study, the researchers described the game to ease lingering hurt feelings.)
Participants were then divided into groups and encouraged to ruminate on either verbal thoughts or mental images. Alternatively, even verbal thoughts and mental images can prompt distractions. In the rumination group, participants were given prompts such as “Imagine what you think you should be like.” In the distraction group, prompts such as “Think about your grocery list” were intended to distract from their negative impact.
To facilitate verbal thinking, the researchers had participants practice coming up with mental sentences describing lemons using specific words. Participants practiced imagining what a lemon would look like under different conditions.
Researchers used noninvasive sensors to record the heart’s electrical activity and skin conductance responses as a way to measure physiological responses to various prompts. They also instructed participants to rate their current emotional impact at four different time points during the study.
Although there was no significant difference in responses between the two types of rumination in adolescents, both verbal thoughts and mental imagery had similar effects on mood, whereas researchers found that both verbal thoughts and mental imagery had similar effects on mood. I have found that images are much more effective than verbal thoughts as a distraction.
“Using mental imagery seems to help improve emotions and tune the nervous system,” Lawrence said.
“The fact that we had no significant results for rumination of thoughts with images and words shows that it doesn’t matter what form those negative cognitions take. The part that looks like it’s stuck is the part where you think over and over again about events that cause you sadness or anxiety.”
Researchers don’t know exactly why mental imagery is so effective, but because imagery is more immersive and requires more effort, it produces stronger emotional responses and more According to Lawrence, imagining mental pictures is the same part of the brain that sees and experiences those things in real life. There is also some evidence that it activates
In her research, Lawrence found that while some adults seem to ruminate in only one form, most teenagers are ruminating in both verbal thinking and mental imagery. It reports that it is ruminating. One possibility is that these thought patterns have become self-reinforcing habits, becoming more ingrained with negative images and verbal messages over time.
“That’s why I love working with teenagers. If we can interrupt these processes early in development, we can help these teenagers into adulthood and help them overcome these negative thought patterns.” “We all ruminate on how long we do it and what skills we need to stop when we want to stop.” The question is whether there is
About this Psychology Research News
Original research: closed access.
“Rethinking Rumination?The unique role of mental imagery in adolescent emotional and physiological responses to rumination and distractionBy Hannah R. Lawrence et al. Affective Disorder Journal
Rethinking Rumination?The unique role of mental imagery in adolescent emotional and physiological responses to rumination and distraction
Rumination is associated with increased risk of depression, while distraction can help distract attention from negative experiences and reduce risk.
Although many people who ruminate do so in the form of mental images, image-based ruminations are more associated with depressive symptom severity than ruminations in the form of verbal thoughts. However, it is not yet known why image-based rumination is particularly problematic and how to intervene to reduce image-based rumination.
Youth (N. = 145) subject to negative mood induction following experimental induction of rumination or distraction in the form of mental images or verbal thoughts while emotional, high-frequency heart rate variability, and skin conductance response data were collected. I was.
Rumination was associated with similar emotional, high frequency heart rate variability, and skin conductance responses, regardless of whether adolescents were induced to ruminate in the form of mental imagery or verbal thoughts. .
Distraction led to greater emotional improvements and greater increases in high-frequency heart rate variability, but when adolescents were induced to distract in the form of mental imagery compared with verbal thinking. , a similar skin conductance response.
The findings highlight the importance of considering mental imagery in the clinical setting when assessing rumination and when using distraction to intervene.