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Depression is a global health problem requiring treatment innovation. Targeting neglected cognitive aspects may provide a useful route. We tested a cognitive-training paradigm using positive mental imagery (imagery cognitive bias modification, imagery CBM), developed via experimental psychopathology studies, in a randomized controlled trial. Training was delivered via the Internet to 150 individuals with current major depression. Unexpectedly, there was no significant advantage for imagery CBM compared with a closely matched control for depression symptoms as a whole in the full sample. In exploratory analyses, compared with the control, imagery CBM significantly improved anhedonia over the intervention and improved depression symptoms as a whole for those participants with fewer than five episodes of depression and those who engaged to a threshold level of imagery. Results suggest avenues for improving imagery CBM to inform low-intensity treatment tools for depression. Anhedonia may be a useful treatment target for future work.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Psychol Sci

Publication Date





91 - 111


Internet health, anhedonia, cognitive therapy, cognitive-bias modification, depression, mental imagery