Background Rumination is one of the hallmark characteristics of both anxiety disorders and depression, and has been linked to deficient executive functioning, particularly working memory (WM). Previous findings show that working memory capacity can be increased through training. Methods The current study explored whether an adaptive stand-alone WM training could increase WMC and consequently reduce rumination, anxiety and depression by means of a double-blind randomized controlled trial in a sample of 98 patients with symptoms of anxiety and/or depression. Results No positive effect of training on WMC was found. In addition, the results show that a WM training was not associated with a reduction of rumination, depression, nor anxiety. Limitations The high drop-out rate in both groups (20.11% from pre- to post-training) and the overrepresentation of men and use of anti-depressants in the placebo group might have influenced the results. Furthermore, expectations and perceptions about the training might have interacted with performance on WM tasks. Conclusions Overall, results show that a stand-alone WM training in patients with symptoms of anxiety and/or depression does not result in reduced rumination nor in reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety. We discuss potential explanations for these findings.

Anxiety, Depression, Rumination, Working memory, Working memory training,
Journal of Affective Disorders
Department of Psychology

Wanmaker, S.W, Geraerts, E.G, & Franken, I.H.A. (2015). A working memory training to decrease rumination in depressed and anxious individuals: A double-blind randomized controlled trial. Journal of Affective Disorders, 175, 310–319. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2014.12.027