Are addiction-related memories malleable by working memory competition? Transient effects on memory vividness and nicotine craving in a randomized lab experiment
Number of pages
SourceJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 52, (2016), pp. 83-91
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI KLP
Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
SubjectExperimental Psychopathology and Treatment
Background and objectives: Experimental research suggests that working memory (WM) taxation reduces craving momentarily. Using a modified Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) procedure, prolonged reductions in craving and relapse rates in alcohol dependence have been demonstrated. Modified EMDR-procedures may also hold promise in smoking cessation attempts. A proof-of-concept study was conducted to narrow the gap between WM-taxation experiments and clinical EMDR studies. To this end the clinical EMDR-procedure was modified for use in a laboratory experiment. Methods: Daily smokers (n = 47), abstaining overnight, were allocated (by minimization randomization) to one of two groups using a parallel design. In both cases a modified EMDR-procedure was used. In the experimental group (n = 24) eye movements (EM) were induced while control group participants (n = 23) fixed their gaze (not taxing WM). During 6 min trials, craving-inducing memories were recalled. Craving, vividness of target memories, and smoking behavior were assessed at several variable-specific time-points between baseline (one week pre-intervention) and one week follow-up. Results: The experimental group showed significant immediate reductions of craving and vividness of targeted memories. However, these effects were lost during a one-week follow-up period. Conclusions: A limited dose of WM-taxation, in the form of EM in a modified EMDR-procedure, resulted in transient effects on memory vividness and nicotine craving. EM provide a valuable way of coping with the acute effects of craving during smoking cessation attempts. Other aspects of the EMDR-procedure may provide additional effects. Component and dose–response studies are needed to establish the potential of EMDR-therapy in smoking cessation.
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