In the current study, we investigate the neuronal correlates of the Attention Training Technique (ATT), a psychotherapeutic intervention used in metacognitive therapy to enhance flexible cognitive control and ameliorate rumination. We adapted the ATT in a neuroscientific attention paradigm in order to investigate the effects of its components: selective attention, attention switching and divided attention in comparison to a control task. Functional near-infrared spectroscopy was used to measure changes in blood oxygenation of fronto-lateral and parietal cortical areas. Furthermore, subjects rated their task performance, effort and attention drifts in each task condition. We observed increased blood oxygenation in the right inferior frontal gyrus, right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and superior parietal lobule during the ATT conditions in comparison to the control condition. Additionally, subjective effort was associated with blood oxygenation in the right inferior prefrontal cortex. Our results are consistent with the theoretical underpinnings of the ATT suggesting that the ATT's mechanism of change lies in the training of areas of the cognitive control network and dorsal attention network. Aberrant functioning of both networks has been shown to be related to depression and rumination.
Rosenbaum, D., Maier, M. J., Hudak, J., Metzger, F. G., Wells, A., Fallgatter, A. J., & Ehlis, A. C. (2018). Neurophysiological correlates of the attention training technique: A component study. NeuroImage: Clinical, 19, 1018–1024. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2018.06.021