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Cognitive bias modification (CBM) is a potential low-intensity intervention for mood disorders, but previous studies have shown mixed success. The current study explored whether CBM designed to shift emotional perception of faces would transfer to: a) a battery of cognitive tasks, and b) self-reported symptoms. In a preregistered, double-blind randomised controlled trial, healthy participants received eight online sessions of CBM (N=52) or eight sham sessions (N=52). While we replicate that CBM successfully shifts ambiguous facial expression interpretation in the intervention group, this failed to transfer to the majority of cognitive or self-report measures. There was, however, weak, inconclusive evidence of transfer to a self-report measure of stress, a cognitive measure of anhedonia, and a ceiling effect (whereby transference was greatest in those with higher symptoms). We discuss the need for work in both larger and clinical samples, whilst urging caution that these CBM training effects may not transfer to clinically relevant domains.
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