Positive Shifts in Emotion Evaluation Following Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) in Remitted Depressed Participants

Kate Williams*, Rebecca Elliott, Thorsten Barnhofer, Roland Zahn, Ian M. Anderson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: A combination of negatively biased information processing and a reduced ability to experience positive emotions can persist into remission from major depression (rMDD). Studies have shown that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) can increase self-reported positive emotions in rMDD participants; similar changes using neuropsychological tasks have not been shown. In this study, we investigated neuropsychological change in emotional processing following MBCT in rMDD participants. Methods: Seventy-three rMDD participants, 40 of whom received MBCT and 33 of whom continued with treatment as usual (TAU), and 42 never depressed participants took part; neither the TAU nor never depressed participants received MBCT. All were assessed at baseline and immediately following MBCT or after an 8-week gap for those without active intervention. Participants completed emotion evaluation and face emotion recognition tasks with self-report measures (mood, mindfulness) at each session. Results: Results showed an MBCT-specific shift in ratings from less negative to more positive emotion evaluations, which correlated with mindfulness practice and self-report mindfulness change. Both the MBCT and TAU groups showed a small increase in overall face emotion recognition accuracy compared with no change in never depressed participants. Conclusions: These findings support a specific role for MBCT in encouraging more positive evaluations of life situations in those with previous depression rather than influencing lower-level processing of emotions. Results should be interpreted cautiously given that this was a non-randomised, preference choice trial. Trial Registration: NCT02226042.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • Emotion processing
  • MBCT
  • Mindfulness
  • Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy
  • Positive emotions
  • Remitted major depression


Dive into the research topics of 'Positive Shifts in Emotion Evaluation Following Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) in Remitted Depressed Participants'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this