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Applied Cognitive Psychology

Friday, September 30th,   2011 [17:20 - 19:20]

PS_1.001 - Cannabis, frontal lobe functioning and schizotypy - What is the nature of the association?

Herzig, D. 1, 2, 3 , Nutt, D. 4 & Mohr, C. 1, 2

1 Institut de Psychologie, Université de Lausanne, Lausanne, CH
2 Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
3 Institut universitaire de médecine sociale et préventive Lausanne, Lausanne, CH
4 Psychopharmacology Unit, Imperial College London, London, UK

Cannabis use negatively affects certain frontal lobe functions, particularly in psychotic and psychosis-prone individuals. Schizotypy -a milder form of schizophrenia symptoms in the general population- also negatively influences these functions. Interestingly, cannabis use is elevated in schizotypy, making schizotypy a likely risk candidate to predict use and harmfulness of cannabis use. We therefore followed up 12 pure cannabis users and 30 non-cannabis users (controls), and assessed their schizotypal symptoms and frontal lobe functions (response inhibition, cognitive flexibility, verbal short-term memory and working memory) at baseline, 6 months and 12 months later. Results showed that cannabis users had a significantly worse verbal short-term memory performance than controls at baseline. Response inhibition performance improved over time in both groups. Neither frequency of cannabis use nor schizotypy related to task performance. These results suggest that cannabis use a) is associated with attenuations in verbal short-term memory, b) does not lead to a worsening of frontal lobe functioning within a year, and c) and schizotypy do not predict attenuations in frontal lobe functions measured here. Future studies should consider testing non-student populations, and further elucidate whether previous reports on detrimental effects of cannabis might be explained by polydrug rather than cannabis use.

PS_1.002 - Task switching in mild job burnout: An event-related potential study

Sokka, L. 1, 2 , Kalakoski, V. 1 , Haavisto, M. 3 , Korpela, J. 1 , Henelius, A. 1 , Lukander, J. 1 & Huotilainen, M. 1, 2

1 Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Brain and Technology Team. Helsinki, Finland.
2 Institute of Behavioural Sciences. University of Helsinki. Helsinki, Finland.
3 Psychology Publications. Helsinki, Finland.

Frequent switching between different cognitive tasks is required in a variety of real life situations and work assignments. We studied whether a major concern across occupations, i.e. job burnout, is associated with the task switching ability. Studies on cognitive performance and task switching in job burnout are scarce. The participants in our preliminary study were 17 currently working IT experts and managers with different degrees of burnout. The severity of burnout symptoms were determined by the total score of the Maslach Burnout Inventory - General Survey. The burnout group and healthy comparison participants were matched on age, gender and education. The Number-Letter task was used to measure task switching cost. Performance data and event-related potentials (ERP) were recorded. The results of the ERP data showed differences in the two groups: burnout participants displayed larger P3a amplitudes than the control group in both the repetition and the task switching trials. In the performance data, no differences were found in switching costs between the groups. Consequently, our results indicate differences in physiological functioning in relation to task switching even in a fairly mild burnout group compared to healthy comparisons.

PS_1.003 - The effects of prolonged attentional bias training on mood and interpretive bias in social anxiety

Paulewicz, B. 1 , Blaut, A. 2 & Gronostaj, A. 2

1 Warsaw School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Katowice, Poland
2 Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland

Attentional bias training seems to be effective in altering social anxiety but the mechanism of changes induces is currently unknown. In order to investigate weather interpretive bias could be part of this mechanism 50 students with high level of social anxiety (SAS) were divided into attentional training (AT, n=25) and control groups (n=25). The dot-probe task with neutral and angry faces was used to measure or train attentional bias. At pretesting mood and cognitive biases were measured with PANAS, STAI, Attentional Control Scale, dot-probe and (verbal) emotional version of the Posner's task. Before the first session of the dot-probe task participants rated neutral facial expressions on the threatening-friendly continous scale. Later both groups performed 3 sessions of the dot-probe task, one in the laboratory and two at home during a 10 day period. In the posttest phase effects of training were assesed with PANAS, STAI, Interpretive Bias Scale, dot-probe, emotional version of the Posner's task and facial expressions interpretation task. The results seem to indicate that effectiveness of attentional bias training in social anxiety depends interactively on at least several affective and cognitive factors.

PS_1.004 - The influence of clinical symptoms on the efficacy of cognitive remediation program in schizophrenia

Bengoetxea, E. 1 , Peña, J. 1 , García, A. . 1 & Ojeda, N. 1, 2

1 Faculty of Psychology and Education, University of Deusto. Bilbao, Spain
2 CIBERSAM, Centro de Salud Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental. Spain.

Introduction: The efficacy of cognitive rehabilitation in patients with schizophrenia and first episode psychosis (FEP) has been widely recognized. Nevertheless, the pattern of cognitive improvement remains unclear. Our goal was to identify if sociodemographic, cognitive reserve or clinical variables predict the patients’ cognitive improvement. Method: 52 FEP and schizophrenia patients were recruited to attend REHACOP cognitive remediation program. All subjects underwent pre and post treatment clinical and neuropsychological assessments. Results: Regression analyses showed that the improvement in cognition after REHACOP is partially predicted by some baseline clinical characteristics. Depression had an influence on general cognition improvement, explaining the 26% of the variance (β=-0.45;p=0.049). Depression explained the 31% and 48% of the variance in verbal memory (β=-0.56;p=0.013) and verbal fluency (β=-0.49;p=0.013), respectively. Simultaneously, verbal fluency is influenced by mania (β=-0.45;p=0.021) basal ratings explaining 48% of the variance. On the other hand, positive clinical symptoms explained up to 32% of the variance both in processing speed (β=-0.57;p=0.009) and executive functioning (β=0.57;p=0.027) improvements. Conclusions: Results suggest that specific baseline clinical symptoms partially predict improvement obtained after cognitive remediation. According to these findings, we could partially predict the profile of patients that will benefit more from cognitive rehabilitation programs.

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