Self-focused cognitive emotion regulation style as associated with widespread diminished EEG fractal dimension.
Xavier Bornas, Miquel Tortella-Feliu, Maria Balle, Jordi Llabrés
Department of Psychology , University of the Balearic Islands , Palma , Spain.
Journal Article: International Journal of Psychology (impact factor: 1.34). 04/2012; DOI: 10.1080/00207594.2012.671945
The cognitive regulation of emotions is important for human adaptation. Self-focused emotion regulation (ER) strategies have been linked to the development and persistence of anxiety and depression. A vast array of research has provided valuable knowledge about the neural correlates of the use of specific self-focused ER strategies; however, the resting neural correlates of cognitive ER styles, which reflect an individual’s disposition to engage in different forms of ER in order to manage distress, are largely unknown. In this study, associations between theoretically negative ER style (self-focused or not) and the complexity (fractal dimension, FD) of the resting EEG at frontal, central, parietal, and occipital regions were investigated in 58 healthy volunteers. The Cognitive Emotion Regulation Questionnaire was used as the self-report measure of ER style. Results showed that a diminished FD over the scalp significantly correlated with self-focused ER style scores, even after controlling for negative affect, which has been also considered to influence the use of ER strategies. The lower the EEG FD, the higher were the self-focused ER style scores. Correlational analyses of specific self-focused ER strategies showed that self-blaming and rumination were negatively associated with diminished FD of the EEG, but catastrophizing and blaming others were not. No significant correlations were found for ER strategies more focused on situation or others. Results are discussed within the self-organized criticality theory of brain dynamics: The diminished FD of the EEG may reflect a disposition to engage in self-focused ER strategies as people prone to ruminate and self-blame show a less complex resting EEG activity, which may make it more difficult for them to exit their negative emotional state. Funding for the study was provided by the Spanish Government through grants PSI2009-12711 and SEJ-2006-14301/PSIC. The authors would like to thank Joan Miquel Gelabert, Alfonso Morillas, and Blanca Aguayo, who assisted with physiological recording. We wish to acknowledge the help of Dr Miquel Noguera in programming the FD calculation algorithms.
Heart rate variability profiles and exposure therapy treatment outcome in flight phobia.
Xavier Bornas, Antonio Riera Del Amo, Miquel Tortella-Feliu, Jordi Llabrés
University of the Balearic Islands, University Research Institute on Health Sciences (IUNICS), Palma, Spain, .
Journal Article: Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (impact factor: 1.77). 12/2011; 37(1):53-62. DOI: 10.1007/s10484-011-9179-5
The goal of this study was to explore why certain patients in a previous study on exposure therapy for flight phobia did not experience an improvement in their conditions. Participants from a treatment study (N = 45) were selected according to post-treatment results and divided into two groups: the unsatisfactory treatment outcome group (UTO, N = 10) and the satisfactory treatment outcome group (STO, N = 10). The differences between these two groups prior to receiving exposure therapy were analyzed at the behavioral, physiological, and cognitive levels. The UTO participants had been avoiding flying longer than the STO phobics. Following Thayer and Lane’s neurovisceral model of emotion regulation, heart rate variability was analyzed at two levels: tonic and phasic. Low frequency and high frequency (HF) power were calculated in the frequency domain and Sample Entropy was computed in the time domain. The tonic HF power of the UTO group was higher than the STO group’s tonic HF power. In the phasic level, while the STO group’s HF power decreased under exposure and subsequently returned to baseline level, the UTO group demonstrated a more rigid pattern. Finally, the STO group reported higher emotional involvement than the UTO group when they were shown a sample of the therapy. Based on these results, the challenge of matching exposure therapy to each patient’s profile is discussed.
Bornas, X., Gelabert, J. M., Llabres, J., Balle, M., & Tortella-Feliu, M. (2011). Slope of change throughout exposure treatment for flight phobia: the role of autonomic flexibility. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 67(6), 550-560. doi:10.1002/jclp.20780; 10.1002/jclp.20780
This study tested the hypothesis that flight-phobic patients experience change at different rates even when they are receiving identical treatment. Faster within-session rates of change (WSRC) were expected for patients who required fewer exposure sessions. The study also tested the theoretical role of autonomic flexibility on WSRC. High flexibility should be associated with faster rates of change. Thirty-seven flight-phobic patients were successfully treated with a computer-assisted fear of flying treatment. A significant negative correlation was found between total number of sessions and WSRC: The fewer sessions patients attended, the faster their rate of change was. The role of autonomic flexibility was partially supported: A significant correlation between heart rate variability and WSRC revealed that flexible patients improved faster than less-flexible patients. (c) 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Clin Psychol 67:1-11, 2011.
Tortella-Feliu, M., Botella, C., Llabres, J., Breton-Lopez, J. M., del Amo, A. R., Banos, R. M., & Gelabert, J. M. (2011). Virtual reality versus computer-aided exposure treatments for fear of flying. Behavior Modification, 35(1), 3-30. doi:10.1177/0145445510390801
Evidence is growing that two modalities of computer-based exposure therapies–virtual reality and computer-aided psychotherapy–are effective in treating anxiety disorders, including fear of flying. However, they have not yet been directly compared. The aim of this study was to analyze the efficacy of three computer-based exposure treatments for fear of flying: virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET), computer-aided exposure with a therapist’s (CAE-T) assistance throughout exposure sessions, and self-administered computer-aided exposure (CAE-SA). A total of 60 participants with flying phobia were randomly assigned to VRET, CAE-T, or CAE-SA. Results indicate that the three interventions were effective in reducing fear of flying at posttreatment and at 1-year follow-up; furthermore, there were no significant differences between them in any of the outcome measure. Large within-group effect sizes were found for all three treatment conditions at both posttreatment and at follow-up. The results suggest that therapist involvement might be minimized during computer-based treatments and that CAE can be as effective as VRET in reducing fear of flying.
Carolina Sitges, Xavier Bornas, Jordi Llabres, Miquel Noguera, Pedro Montoya, Linear and nonlinear analyses of EEG dynamics during non-painful somatosensory processing in chronic pain patients, International Journal of Psychophysiology, Volume 77, Issue 2, August 2010, Pages 176-183, ISSN 0167-8760, DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2010.05.010.
The aim of our study was to characterize brain dynamics of affective modulation of somatosensory processing in chronic pain. We hypothesized that chronic pain patients will show abnormal EEG activity under negative mood conditions compared to healthy controls. Nineteen patients with chronic pain and 21 healthy subjects participated in the experiment. Multiscale entropy, fractal dimension, event-related potentials, and fast Fourier transform were used to analyze EEG data. A significant enhancement of entropy was found in pain patients at P4 compared to P3. Analysis of fractal dimension also revealed significantly higher values at P4 than P3 when pain patients were viewing unpleasant pictures. By contrast, no significant differences due to hemisphere or affective condition were found on nonlinear measures for healthy controls. Analyses of somatosensory ERPs showed that P50 amplitudes elicited by pleasant pictures were more reduced in chronic pain patients than in healthy controls. Finally, we observed that EEG band power was lower in pain patients than in healthy controls, in particular for theta and beta bands over sensorimotor cortices and temporal regions when viewing pleasant images. These findings suggest that sustained pain seems to be accompanied by an abnormal activation and dynamic of brain networks related to emotional processing of somatosensory information in chronic pain. Furthermore, our findings suggest that both linear and nonlinear measures of EEG time series may contribute to the understanding of brain dysfunction in chronic pain.
International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 2010, 10, 167-179. Exposure induced changes in EEG phase synchrony and entropy: A snake phobia case report. Xavier Bornas (Universitat de les Illes Balears, Spain), Miquel Noguera (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Spain), Miquel Tortella-Feliu (Universitat de les Illes Balears, Spain), Jordi Llabrés (Universitat de les Illes Balears, Spain), Pedro Montoya (Universitat de les Illes Balears, Spain), Carol Sitges (Universitat de les Illes Balears, Spain), and Inma Tur (Universitat de les Illes Balears, Spain)
In this case study the electroencephalographic (EEG) activity of a 23 years old snake phobic patient was recorded one week before treatment, one week after successful one-session exposure therapy, and one year later. EEG recordings were obtained at rest and during exposure to pictures of snakes, pictures of equivalent arousing power, and emotionally neutral images, all of them taken from the International Affective Pictures System. Measures of brain dynamics were sample entropy (SampEn) for each EEG signal/channel and phase synchronization between pairs of EEG channels. Results showed dramatic changes in both measures one week after treatment: SampEn increased and phase synchrony decreased at all sites and pairs of channels respectively. At follow-up, however, we found patterns of entropy and synchrony change across conditions that were similar to the pre-treatment ones, while the patient did not report any fear at all. Despite the limitations of single case studies, these results suggest that the exposure-induced changes in EEG entropy and synchronization are large but transient. The transient increase of the brain’s flexibility could be one of the working neurophysiological mechanisms of exposure therapy.
International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 2009, 9, 37-49. Looking for traces of phylogenetic fears: Differences in EEG slow oscillations and complexity between spiderand flight phobic subjects. Xavier Bornas (Universitat de les Illes Balears, Spain), Andreas Mühlberger (University of Wurzburg, Germany), Jordi Llabrés (Universitat de les Illes Balears, Spain), Georg Wiedemann (University of Frankfurt, Germany), and Paul Pauli (University of Wurzburg, Germany)
Phylogenetic fears involve stimuli representing a real or potential threat to the species¿ evolutionary ancestors. We tested whether individuals with a phylogenetic fear (spider phobics, n = 17) differed in EEG general activity (delta band power) of the oldest brain system and in complexity from individuals with a non-phylogenetic fear (flight phobics, n = 15) during eyes open and eyes closed resting states. Delta band power was higher during the eyes-closed condition at central sites FZ, CZ and PZ as well as at frontal sites FP1, FP2, and F4. No differences existed in the upper bands theta, alpha, and beta. The EEG complexity was significantly lower among individuals with spider phobia. Differences were found under both eyes closed and eyes open conditions at FZ, F4, CZ, and C4. Lower complexity was also found at PZ and O2 during eyes open. In general, the results of this ex post facto study lend support to the hypothesized prevalence of slow oscillations in phylogenetic fears. Furthermorethese results show that the EEG output of spider phobic participants is less complex than the output from flight phobic participants. The prevalence of slow brain oscillations and the lowered EEG complexity could be interpreted as traces of phylogenetic fears.
Xavier Bornas, Jordi Llabres, Miquel Tortella-Feliu, Miquel A. Fullana, Pedro Montoya, Ana Lopez, Miquel Noguera, Joan M. Gelabert, Vagally mediated heart rate variability and heart rate entropy as predictors of treatment outcome in flight phobia, Biological Psychology, Volume 76, Issue 3, October 2007, Pages 188-195, ISSN 0301-0511, DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2007.07.007.
In the present study a computer-assisted exposure-based treatment was applied to 54 flight phobics and the predictive role of vagally mediated heart rate (HR) variability (high frequency, 0.15-0.4 Hz band power) and heart rate entropy (HR time series sample entropy) on treatment outcome was investigated. Both physiological measures were taken under controlled breathing at 0.2 Hz and during exposure to a fearful sequence of audiovisual stimuli. Hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to assess the predictive power of these variables in these conditions on treatment self-report measures at the end of treatment and at 6 months follow-up, as well as on the behavioral treatment outcome (i.e. flying at the end of treatment). Regression models predicting significant amounts of outcome variance could be built only when HR entropy was added to the HR variability measure in a second step of the regression analyses. HR variability alone was not found to be a good predictor of neither self-reported nor behavioral treatment outcomes.
International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 2007, 7, 547-558. Análisis de dos estrategias de enseñanza-aprendizaje en la docencia de Terapia de Conducta. Miquel Tortella-Feliu, Mateu Servera y Jordi Llabrés (Institut Universitari d’Investigacions en Ciències de la Salut, Universitat de les Illes Balears, España)
Este estudio cuasi-experimental analiza la eficacia de una metodología docente basada en seminarios y evaluación continua (grupo S) respecto a la basada en clases magistrales y una única prueba de evaluación final (grupo M), y la disposición del alumnado a seguir estas metodologías y su grado de implicación en la asignatura Terapia de Conducta de los estudios de Psicología. Los alumnos del grupo S obtuvieron un mayor rendimiento académico que los estudiantes que no optaron por esa metodología docente, tanto en lo que respecta a la calificación media obtenida como al porcentaje de aprobados. La distribución del alumnado en la selección de grupo fue bastante homogénea aunque un porcentaje importante de alumnos no completó el curso con la metodología elegida inicialmente. Los alumnos del grupo S dedicaron más tiempo a la preparación de la asignatura. No se encontró relación significativa entre el tiempo de estudio y el rendimiento académico. Los resultados se discuten en el marco de la adaptación al Espacio Europeo de Educación Superior.
International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 2006, 6, 549-563. Changes in heart rate variability of flight phobics during a paced breathing task and exposure to fearful stimuli. Xavier Bornas, Jordi Llabrés, Miquel Noguera, Ana María López, Miquel Tortella-Feliu, Miquel Ángel Fullana, Pedro Montoya, Joan Miquel Gelabert, and Irene Vila
The aim of this experiment was to explore changes in the vagally mediated heart rate variability (HRV) of flight phobics during exposure to feared stimuli. A paced breathing task was included to control for respiration effects. Sixty-one flight phobics (40 women) with a mean age of 39.07 years (SD = 11.24) participated in the study. The root mean of the squared successive interbeat intervals differences (RMSSD) was taken as the time domain measure of HRV. High frequency (HF: 0.15-0.4 Hz) and low frequency (LF: 0.04-0.15 Hz) band power was calculated on the ECG recordings obtained during free breathing baseline (BL), paced breathing (PB), and exposure (E) to fearful stimuli. Heart rate unexpectedly increased from BL to PB, and decreased from PB to E, while no differences were found between BL and E. No changes in the RMSSD were seen across conditions. HF band power increased, as expected, from BL to PB, and a significant decrease was found from PB to E. LF band power, as well as the LF/HF ratio, increased from BL to E. Discussion focuses on (a) the role of the parasympathetic and the sympathetic nervous systems in fear-related situations, and (b) the effects of paced breathing in preparing the system to cope with threat.