For anxious people, the ingrained habit of selectively attending to only those things that are possibly dangerous leads to a vicious cycle in which an ambiguous world is seen and experienced as threatening(link is external)—even when it’s not.
Cognitive bias modification (CBM) training is an innovative intervention that’s been shown to break individuals out of that vicious cycle, and to “cut the anxiety off at the pass(link is external).”
Researchers believe that CBM is effective in its ability to manipulate and alter the target source of the brain’s supposed hardwired negativity bias. It does so through implicit, experiential, and rapid-based training. For example, in one type of intervention(link is external), people are simply instructed to repeatedly identify the location of a smiling face among a matrix of angry faces. Hundreds of these sorts of repeat trials are proving to be effective in reducing the attentional negativity bias contributing to maladaptive anxiety.