Although it has been reported that attentional bias at an early stage is found in depression, no study has investigated the effects of modification of attentional bias at an early stage on depressive mood and cortisol response to a stressor. Therefore, this study tested the hypotheses that the modification of attentional bias at an early stage would reduce depressive mood and cortisol response. Fifty-three participants were allocated alternately either to the training or the control group. They were administered attention retraining for modification of attentional bias or a sham attention task, and then underwent a stress task. With respect to depressive mood response, depressive mood increased in response to a stress task in the control group, while for high-dysphoric participants in the training group, depressive mood response remained constant. These results indicate that attention retraining is efficacious for reducing depressive mood response. With respect to cortisol response, the percentage change in cortisol is associated with the amount of change in the attentional bias index scores. The results suggest the possibility that attention retraining could reduce cortisol response.
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