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Depression Prevention Training

December 15, 2011

Researchers hope to stave off depression by training kids to gravitate toward positive images.



Depression prevention training.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Depression may stem in part from a tendency to pay too much attention to negative things. Now, Stanford University psychologist Ian Gotlib and his colleagues are training girls with depressed mothers to counteract that tendency, in hopes of preventing depression from striking them. The girls play a video game in which two faces appear on the screen: either one happy and one neutral, or one neutral and one sad. The object is to uncover a dot underneath.

And in the training, the dots are always behind the happy face in the happy-neutral, and they’re always behind the neutral face in the neutral-sad. So they’re always trained away from sad and towards happy.

The technique sounds incredibly simple, but other researchers have already shown that it can treat anxiety. And preliminary results suggest that it does reduce the girls’ stress responses to negative stimuli, which is a key marker of depression. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.