Pre-molecular assessment of self-processes in neurotypical subjects using a single cognitive behavioral intervention evoking autobiographical memory

Jorge Emanuel Martins*, Joana Simões, Marlene Barros, Mário Simões

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

In the last 20 years, several contributions have been published on what concerns the conceptual and empirical connections between self-processes. However, only a limited number of publications addressed the viability of those processes to characterize mental health in neurotypical subjects with a normative pattern of neurodevelopment. Furthermore, even fewer experiments focused explicitly on the complexity of studying neurotypical phenomenal data. On the one hand, this normative pattern is commonly associated with mental health and a multifaceted self-concept and well-being. On the other hand, well-being is often related to a healthy cognitive life. However, how such intricate and complex relation between self-processes is established in neurotypical subjects requires further evidence. The novelty of this work is thus studying the first-person experience, which is correlated with the mental events aroused by a cognitive behavioral intervention. The prior methodology that led to the complete characterization of a neurotypical sample was already published by the authors, although the materials, the methods, the sample screening, and the sample size study required further explanation and exploration. This paper’s innovation is hence the phenomenological assessment of subjects’ self-regulation, which is used for mental health profiling, providing the basis for subsequent molecular typing. For that matter, a convenience sample of 128 (19–25-year-old) neurotypical young adults, healthy university students at the University of Lisbon, non-medicated and with no serious, uncontrolled, or chronic diseases, are characterized according to their cognitive functioning and self-concept. The procedure comprised (i) a mental status examination (psychological assessment) and (ii) a psychological intervention, i.e., a single cognitive behavioral intervention (intervention protocol). The psychological assessment was a standardized and structured clinical interview, which comprised the use of 4 psychological scales complementary to the classical Mental Status Examination (MSE). The intervention protocol applied a combined exercise of psychophysical training and autobiographical-self memory-recalling. The results permitted identifying and isolating four different subgroups (self awareness, self consciousness, reflective self, and pre-reflective self) in neurotypical subjects with discrete self-processes. The outcome of this study is screening four different aspects of self-reflection and the isolation between various forms of self-directed attention and their interconnections in these four mental health strata. The practical implication of this study is to fulfill an a priori pre-molecular assessment of self-regulation with separate cognitive characteristics. The reliability of these mental strata, their distinct neurophysiology, and discrete molecular fingerprint will be tested in a future publication by in silico characterization, total protein profiling, and simultaneous immunodetection of the neuropeptide and neuroimmune response of the same participants.
Original languageEnglish
Article number381
Number of pages45
JournalBehavioral Sciences
Volume12
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2022

Keywords

  • Cognitive behavioral intervention
  • Conscious experience
  • Mental health profiling
  • Neurophenomenology
  • Neurotypical
  • Self-concept
  • Self-reflection
  • Self-regulation

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