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Poster B4 - Sketchpad Series

Investigating the relationship between imagery strength and features of depression and anxiety

Poster Session B - Sunday, April 14, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Cara Allardice1 (, James H. Kryklywy1; 1Lakehead University

While the influence of visual mental imagery on emotional processing and psychopathology is well-established, the mechanism by which imagery strength manifests in psychopathologies remains unclear. Individual differences in imagery vividness for emotional stimuli can impact physiological responses; weak imagers exhibit dampened responses and strong imagers exhibit heightened responses. Imagery strength also varies across emotional valence and diagnostic groups, suggesting that imagery may have distinct impact in different pathologies unique. To address this possibility, we will examine cognitive and physiological responses to both imagined and observed emotional stimuli. Participants will complete an emotional appraisal task, wherein they will be presented with blocks of either images or imagery cues and subsequently asked to rate the emotional valence of each stimulus. During imagery trials, participants will also rate the vividness of each mental image produced. Electrodermal activity (EDA) will be collected to assess physiological arousal during the task. Task performance will be compared to scores on standardized measures of depression and anxiety. We predict that increased anxiety will be associated with greater vividness for affectively negative imagined stimuli while increased depressive features will be associated with reduced vividness for affectively positive imagined stimuli. We further predict EDA activity to reflect both emotion and imagery vividness in an interactive manner. This work aims to provide physiological and cognitive evidence for affect-specific imagery dysfunction in depression and anxiety. Such findings will have significant clinical implications on assessment and treatment protocols, as well as disorder conceptualizations broadly.

Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Emotion-cognition interactions


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April 13–16  |  2024