New Research From Clinical Psychological Science

Folk Classification and Factor Rotations: Whales, Sharks, and the Problems With the Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP)
Gerald J. Haeffel et al.

Haeffel and colleagues evaluated the Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP), a classification system that clusters symptoms of mental illness into dimensions of psychopathology rather than the classic diagnostic taxonomies used in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), for instance. The authors suggest that HiTOP does not show a high degree of accuracy and may hinder understanding of the etiology of psychopathology. Thus, they believe that HiTOP is not ready to be used in clinical settings and recommend that practitioners use the DSM while researchers develop a theory-based classification system.

Defining and Measuring Meditation-Related Adverse Effects in Mindfulness-Based Programs
Willoughby B. Britton, Jared R. Lindahl, David J. Cooper, Nicholas K. Canby, and Roman Palitsky

Mindfulness-based programs use meditation and other mindfulness techniques to treat psychological issues, such as stress or depression, but do these programs also have adverse effects? Britton and colleagues measured meditation-related side effects following three variants of an 8-week program of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. Results indicated that 58% of participants experienced meditation-related adverse effects, and 37% reported that the adverse effects had negative impacts on their daily functioning. Lasting bad effects occurred in 6% to 14% of participants and were consistent with signs of dysregulated arousal (e.g., insomnia, anxiety, and dissociation).

Selectively Interfering With Intrusive but Not Voluntary Memories of a Trauma Film: Accounting for the Role of Associative Memory
Alex Lau-Zhu, Richard N. Henson, and Emily A. Holmes

Lau-Zhu and colleagues showed participants trauma films (e.g., famine in Rwanda) followed by an interference procedure (film stills as reminders, plus a Tetris game) or a control procedure (film reminders only). Participants reported intrusive memories of the films while completing cognitive tasks and performing a recognition test of film stills. They also reported intrusive memories of the films during the week after watching them. Overall, participants who went through the interference procedure reported fewer intrusive memories than those in the control group but comparable recognition memory, suggesting an involuntary versus voluntary memory dissociation for emotional content.

Decoupling of Obsessions and Compulsions During Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Youths With Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Bunmi O. Olatunji et al.

The relationship between obsessions and compulsions throughout treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) appears to be associated with treatment outcomes. Youths between 7 and 17 years of age with OCD received 10 sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy that emphasized exposure and response prevention (ERP). ERP entails exposure to fear-eliciting stimuli (i.e., obsessions) combined with instructions to abstain from compulsive behaviors (i.e., actions to reduce the anxiety provoked by the obsessions). Participants who showed improvement after the ERP treatment experienced a decoupling of obsessions and compulsions, whereas those who did not show improvement experienced a strengthening of the association between obsessions and compulsions.

Placebo Effects: A New Theory
Tao Liu

Liu proposes a new model to explain how a placebo’s effect on the mind can affect the body, lessening a person’s symptoms. According to Liu’s model, context-based placebo effects arise from positive treatment beliefs but are directly caused by benefit expectations. Thus, placebos mediate a belief-expectation transformation, triggering therapeutic responses. Specifically, placebos’ effects depend on treatment beliefs and how those beliefs are converted into patients’ motivations as well as expectations of benefits. Thus, placebo effects shift from weak to strong when patients’ belief-based treatment expectations shift from less negative through neutral to positive, changing the patients’ motivations.

Inferences Training Affects Memory, Rumination, and Mood
Baruch Perlman et al.

Perlman and colleagues used a cognitive-bias modification procedure to train participants to make causal inferences. Participants imagined themselves as the main character in negative social, academic, and occupational scenarios; each scenario was accompanied by a positive or negative causal inference. When asked to make inferences for new negative scenarios, participants made inferences that reflected their positive or negative training. Participants also confabulated memories about the inferences congruent with their training valence. Training had immediate effects on negative mood and rumination, but not after the recall of autobiographical memories. In participants with high levels of depression, training influenced inferences about autobiographical memories.

Filthiness of Immorality: Manipulating Disgust and Moral Rigidity Through Noninvasive Brain Stimulation as a Promising Therapeutic Tool for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Giuseppe Salvo et al.

Noninvasive brain stimulation may reduce some of the most impairing symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), this research suggests. Healthy participants received 15 min of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over the temporal lobe and completed measures to assess disgust (subjective ratings, physiological measures, and implicit measures) and moral judgment (ratings of moral wrongness depicted in different vignettes). Salvo and colleagues showed that cathodal tDCS of the insula appeared to reduce participants’ disgust and moral rigidity. This reduction after cathodal stimulation was stronger for participants with higher levels of OCD traits.

Differentiating Kinds of Systemic Stressors With Relation to Psychotic-Like Experiences in Late Childhood and Early Adolescence: The Stimulation, Discrepancy, and Deprivation Model of Psychosis
Teresa Vargas, Katherine S. F. Damme, K. Juston Osborne, and Vijay A. Mittal

Vargas and colleagues used the data from 3,207 youths (ages 9 to 11) to explore the relationships among the youths’ psychotic-like experiences and exposure to systemic stressors, including their neighborhoods and living situations. In their analysis, the factors that appeared to be related to psychosis protection and vulnerability were neighborhood safety (stimulation domain; lack of safety and high attentional demands), sense of belonging with one’s ethnic group and American culture participation (discrepancy; social exclusion and lack of belonging), and deprivation (lack of environmental enrichment). Thus, the researchers found partial support for a model of psychosis involving stimulation, discrepancy, and deprivation.

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