Up till now psychologists focused more on the emotional domain of person’s disturbed state and changing those disturbing factors to adopt new healthy ways. This is true for the cognitive behavioral approaches to psychotherapy which is a widely used approach in mental health treatments.
A new research conducted by Doctor Noga Cohen showed intriguing findings. She conducted a study on a group of German participants in order to find out how ignoring the irrelevant information affects those brain areas which deal with emotions. The researcher engaged participants in two kinds of tasks. One which involved emotional kind of activity in which they had to ignore negatively charged emotional pictures. Other task involved simply notifying the pointing of an arrow to either left or right side while ignoring its direction to any side. The participants were trained in this activity and while performing the tasks both groups of participants were tested through fMRI showing activity in different areas of the brain. The researcher found that participants who were trained in ignoring emotional stimuli exhibited less activity in their amygdala which is responsible for producing negative emotions like depression, anxiety and anger etc. compared to the other group which was trained in ignoring simple things like direction of the arrow. Moreover, the intense training group showed more activity in brain connections to frontal cortex which is responsible for effective handling of emotions.
This study showed that if we train our patients suffering from any psychiatric illness about how they can ignore irrelevant emotional situations, they can better manage their psychological problems. This study has developed new ways for cognitive behavior therapists who can modify new strategies to treat their patients.
Dr. Mehwish Mursaleen
Ph.D. Clinical Psychology