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How eye movements in EMDR work : Changes in memory vividness and emotionality

By Arne Leer, Iris M. Engelhard and Marcel A. Van Den Hout


Background and objectives Eye movements (EM) during recall of an aversive memory is a treatment element unique to Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). Experimental studies have shown that EM reduce memory vividness and/or emotionality shortly after the intervention. However, it is unclear whether the immediate effects of the intervention reflect actual changes in memory. The aim of this study was to test whether immediate reductions in memory vividness and emotionality persist at a 24 h follow up and whether the magnitude of these effects is related to the duration of the intervention. Methods Seventy-three undergraduates recalled two negative autobiographical memories, one with EM ("recall with EM") and one without ("recall only"). Half of participants recalled each memory for four periods of 24 s, the other half for eight periods of 24 s. Memory vividness/emotionality were self-rated at a pre-test, an immediate post-test, and a 24 h follow-up test. Results In both duration groups, recall with EM, but not recall only, caused an immediate decrease in memory vividness. There were no immediate reductions in memory emotionality. Furthermore, only the 'eight periods' group showed that recall with EM, but not recall only, caused a decrease in both memory emotionality and memory vividness from the pre-test to the follow-up. Limitations Only self-report measures were used. Conclusions The findings suggest that recall with EM causes 24-h changes in memory vividness/ emotionality, which may explain part of the EMDR treatment effect, and these effects are related to intervention duration. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved

Topics: EMDR, Emotionality, Eye movement, Vividness, Working memory, Psychiatry and Mental health, Experimental and Cognitive Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
Year: 2014
OAI identifier: oai:dspace.library.uu.nl:1874/303910
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