EMDR and mindfulness. Eye movements and attentional breathing tax working memory and reduce vividness and emotionality of aversive ideation

Publication year: 2011
Source: Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, Volume 42, Issue 4, December 2011, Pages 423-431

Marcel A., van den Hout , Iris M., Engelhard , Daniel, Beetsma , Christien, Slofstra , Hellen, Hornsveld , …

 Background and objectives: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) are effective in reducing the subjective impact of negative ideation. In both treatments, patients are encouraged to engage in a dual-task (eye movements (EM) in the case of EMDR and attentional breathing (AB) in the case of MBCT) while they experience negative thoughts or images. Working memory theory explains the effects of EM by suggesting that it taxes limited working memory resources, thus rendering the image less vivid and emotional. It was hypothesized that both AB and EM tax working memory and that both reduce vividness and…

 Highlights: ► Eye movements (EM) as used in EMDR tax working memory and reduce vividness/emotionality of memories. ► Like EM, attentional breathing (AB) as used in ”mindfulness” seems to reduce negative ideation. ► AB taxed working memory to the same degree as EM (studies 1 and 2). ► AB and EM reduced emotionality (study 1) and vividness (study 2) of negative memories. ► Taxing working memory during negative ideation may explain effects of both “mindfulness” and EMDR.