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Use of Cognitive Bias Modification (CBM) as Part of Treatment for
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) within a Community Setting

Starting Date: 

Research Objective

The first study of its kind, researchers will investigate the effectiveness of cognitive bias modification training (CBM-I) using a hand-held device for patients with depression using a community sample.


  • This is a double-blind study in which neither the participants nor the researchers know who is actively receiving treatment and who is part of the placebo (control) group. This procedure prevents bias in research results.
  • With this CBM-I application, ambiguous situations are displayed on an iPhone screen in which a key word or phrase can be altered to show a positive, negative or neutral interpretation.
  • Participants in the active group are trained to arrive at healthier interpretations of the ambiguous sentences, while the control group is trained to arrive at either a negative or neutral interpretations.

Participants/Pre-Screening Criteria

  • Rogers will recruit approximately 60 adults within the community to volunteer for this study.

— Inclusion Criteria

This study will include adults with a primary diagnosis of MDD who are fluent in English. Participants may be taking psychotropic medications, but dosages must be stable for at least the last 90 days prior to beginning the study.

Exclusion Criteria

Participants cannot be actively suicidal, diagnosed as having a psychotic or delusional disorder, or be actively dependent on substances.

  • Half of the participants will be assigned to an active group for the enhanced treatment, the other half will be placed in a placebo group.


  • A Research Assistant conducts a pre-screening with the potential candidate to determine viability as a participant in the study. The Research Assistant then schedules a screening session to review participant’s medication history, administer a structured clinical interview and have the participant complete self-report measures.
  • During this study, the participant meet individually with a member of the research team a total of eight times at Rogers Behavioral Health’s Oconomowoc or Brown Deer location. The participant is taught how to use the app during the first visit.
  • Following the first visit, the remaining seven visits take place twice weekly with the participant using the CBM interactive application and completing a series of assessments.


  • Only key research personnel will have access to the encrypted data files and will conduct the analysis using this information.
  • Researchers will compare the active and placebo groups to assess if the iPhone application was successful in producing a greater reduction in symptoms for people who are also currently receiving treatment for MDD.
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