Emotionally valenced and modality-specific dual tasks: Effects on voluntary reminding and proactive interference in trauma-exposed individuals suffering from PTSD

Somayeh Daneshvar, Mohammad Reza Taghavi, Mohammad Ali Goodarzi, Laura Jobson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: People suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often experience distressing traumatic memories. Therapeutic methods that apply a secondary task while clients recall a trauma memory may further assist in modifying the vividness and emotionality of the trauma memory and in reducing intrusions. In this experiment, we aimed to investigate whether the emotional valence (positive vs. neutral) and sensory modality (visual vs. auditory) of a secondary task reduces the vividness and emotionality of the trauma memory and the proactive interference. Method: Sixty PTSD patients exposed to road traffic accident traumas were randomized to one of four groups in a 2 (emotional valence: positive, neutral) × 2 (modality: visual, auditory) design. Participants were then exposed to a positive or a neutral clip that was visual or auditory and were required to recall the trauma memory during exposure to the clip. Vividness and emotionality of the trauma memory and proactive interference were assessed before and after exposure to the clip and at a 1-week follow-up. Results: Results revealed that participants who recalled the trauma memory while exposed to the positive clip reported their trauma memory as being less distressing (but not less vivid) and indicated less proactive interference than did participants exposed to the neutral clip. Nevertheless, modality had no significant effect in attenuating the proactive interference under conditions of modality congruence. Conclusion: Inducing positive emotion while performing a dual task may be an effective module in therapeutic approaches. Clinical Impact Statement: Our research findings indicate a promising psychotherapeutic approach in reducing the emotionality of the trauma memory in patients suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, consequently, treating intrusion symptoms in PTSD. In this regard, we applied a dual-task paradigm by inducing positive emotion while the PTSD patient is recalling his or her trauma memory. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)586–595
Number of pages10
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • dual task
  • emotion
  • modality
  • proactive interference
  • PTSD

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