Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Stephen R. Shirk, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Omar Gudino

Third Advisor

Benjamin Hankin

Fourth Advisor

Kateri McRae


Cognitive reappraisal, Depression, Neurobehavioral therapy, Working memory


Cognitive Reappraisal (CR) is a central component of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for adolescent depression. Yet, previous research indicates that a brain region highly associated with successful CR in adults, the Prefrontal Cortex (PFC), is not fully developed until early adulthood. Thus, there is growing concern that CBT interventions directed at building CR abilities in depressed teens might be constrained by PFC immaturity. However, CR is an effective strategy for regulating affect. The current study evaluated an intervention aimed at enhancing CR performance through PFC “warm up” with a working memory task. Additionally, the study examined moderators of intervention response, as well as cognitive correlates of self-reported CR use.

Participants included 48 older adolescents (mean age=19.1, 89% female) with elevated symptoms of depression who were randomly assigned to a lab-based WM or control activity followed by a CR task. Overall, results failed to support the effectiveness of “warm up” to augment CR performance. However, current level of depression predicted negative bias and sadness ratings after CR instructions, and this effect was qualified by an interaction with condition. The moderator analysis showed that depressive symptoms interacted with condition such that in the control condition, participants with higher depressive symptoms had significantly lower negative bias scores than individuals with lower depressive symptoms, but this pattern was not found in the experimental condition. Contrary to hypotheses, history of depression did not moderate treatment response. Additional analyses explored alternative explanations for the lack of intervention effects. There was some evidence to suggest that the WM task was frustrating and cognitively taxing. However, irritation scores and overall WM task accuracy did not predict subsequent CR performance. Lastly, multiple cognitive variables emerged as correlates of self-reported CR use, with cognitive flexibility contributing unique variance to self-reported CR use. Results pointed to new directions for improving CR performance among youth with elevated symptoms of depression.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.


Received from ProQuest

Rights holder

Emma L. Peterson

File size

80 p.

File format





Clinical Psychology