The effects of dual-tasks on intrusive memories following analogue trauma

Kevin van Schie*, Suzanne C. van Veen, Muriel A. Hagenaars

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Patients with post-traumatic stress disorder frequently and involuntarily experience intrusions, which are strongly linked to the trauma hotspot. Voluntary memory characteristics (i.e., vividness and unpleasantness) of this hotspot can be reduced by performing a dual-task, such as making horizontal eye movements, which is frequently used in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. We tested whether such dual-task interventions would also reduce involuntary memory (i.e., intrusions). Moreover, we examined if changes in hotspot vividness and unpleasantness predicted intrusion frequency. Additionally, we examined whether the effects were dependent on dual-task modality. We tested this in three experiments. Participants watched a trauma film and performed one of the interventions 10-min post-film (1) Recall + Eye movements, (2) Recall + Counting, or (3) No-Task Control. Before and after the intervention, participants rated the hotspot vividness and unpleasantness. They recorded intrusive memories about the film in a diary for a week. Unexpectedly, we found that hotspot vividness and unpleasantness ratings were not affected by the intervention. However, the prolonged (experiment 2), but not standard (experiment 1), dual-task interventions resulted in a lower number of intrusions, regardless of modality. However, this effect was not replicated in experiment 3. We discuss potential explanations and present suggestions for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103448
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019
Externally publishedYes


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