Article Text

Download PDFPDF
From cognitive targets to symptom reduction: overview of attention and interpretation bias modification research
  1. Chelsea Dyan Gober1,
  2. Amit Lazarov1,
  3. Yair Bar-Haim1,2
  1. 1 School of Psychological Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
  2. 2 Sagol School of Neuroscience, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
  1. Correspondence to Ms Chelsea Dyan Gober, School of Psychological Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel; chelseagober{at}


Cognitive bias modification (CBM) is a class of mechanised psychological interventions designed to target specific aberrant cognitive processes considered key in the aetiology and/or maintenance of specific psychiatric disorders. In this review, we outline a multistage translational process that allows tracking progress in CBM research. This process involves four steps: (1) the identification of reliable cognitive targets and establishing their association with specific disorders; (2) clinical translations designed to rectify the identified cognitive targets; (3) verification of effective target engagement and (4) testing of clinical utility in randomised controlled trials. Through the prism of this multistage process, we review progress in clinical CBM research in two cognitive domains: attention and interpretation; in six psychiatric conditions: anxiety disorders, major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, addictive disorders, eating disorders and obsessive–compulsive disorder. The review highlights achievement as well as shortcomings of the CBM approach en route to becoming a recognised evidence-supported therapy for these disorders.

  • anxiety disorders
  • depression & mood disorders
  • eating disorders
  • substance misuse

Statistics from


  • Contributors YBH was responsible for initiating and conceptualising this review. CDG was the major contributor in writing the manuscript. AL and YBH revised the manuscript, assisted in the final conceptualisation of the manuscript and assisted in finalising it for submission. All authors read and approved the final version of the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests There are no competing interests.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data sharing not applicable as no datasets were generated and/or analysed for this study. Not applicable as this is a narrative review.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.