Abstract:

At Ease USA is happy to report the results of another study funded by At Ease USA, showing that attention training, especially Attention Control Training (ACT), reduces PTSD-related cognitive difficulties in combat Veterans.

In this study published in Cognition and Emotion, the researchers report that veterans with PTSD had difficulty completing a cognitive task when combat words (e.g. bomb or shoot) were present on the computer screen, but did not show this processing difficulty when neutral words (e.g. pan or soap) were shown.  Veterans without PTSD performed the cognitive task equally well no matter which words were presented, indicating that the emotional Stroop task effect is associated with PTSD.

After 8 sessions of attention training, Veterans originally diagnosed with PTSD performed similarly to veterans without PTSD.  After treatment, they no longer demonstrated this cognitive difficulty.  This new study is unique because it does not directly measure symptoms of PTSD.  Instead it measures the attention allocation difficulties believed to underlie symptoms of the disorder.  The new results were particularly strong for ACT, the attention training protocol, that was most effective in the recent clinical trials reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

These new findings are exciting because they offer an independent test of the effectiveness of attention training for PTSD, showing that the treatment appears to normalize basic cognitive processing disruptions associated with the disorder, as well as reduce its symptoms.

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