The P1vital® Oxford Emotional Test Battery (ETB) has been used in clinical trials by the pharmaceutical industry for over 10 years, to provide an early indication of the effectiveness of novel compounds in treating mood disorders such as depression.
The P1vital® Oxford ETB comprises five cognitive tests related to emotional processing, completed on a desktop computer.
How does it work?
Experimental and clinical research has demonstrated, persuasively, that cognitive biases operate in mood disorders including depression. Individuals suffering from depression show a tendency to remember, and attend to, negative information over positive information.
A growing body of quality scientific research suggests that effective antidepressants operate by shifting these emotional biases.
This shift occurs early in treatment, and can be observed in healthy populations as well as clinical groups.
The utility of the ETB is based on the hypothesis that antidepressants work by reversing negative biases in depression prior to changes in mood.
What is the P1vital® ETB?
The ETB comprises five cognitive tests related to emotional processing (e.g. facial emotion recognition, or memory for positive vs. negative stimuli).
Previous research supporting the utility of the ETB is persuasive: each paradigm has been shown to be sensitive to conventional antidepressant treatment, and performance is altered in people who are depressed, or who are at high risk of becoming depressed.
Why the P1vital® ETB?
Compounds with antidepressant properties appear to alter emotional bias after a short course of treatment – e.g. 1 week. Experimental medicine studies using the P1vital® ETB can therefore have a shorter duration, decreasing costs.
Because the tests measure subtle negative emotional biases, which the individual may be unaware of, potential placebo effects (commonly observed with traditional scales used to measure depression) are reduced or eliminated.
The effect of antidepressants on emotional processing is apparent in both healthy controls as well as patients. A further advantage of this model is, therefore, that putative antidepressants can be assessed in normal volunteers at reduced time and cost, prior to further research in patient groups.
Experimental medicine approaches based on tools such as the ETB are therefore not only cost-effective but enable timely and quality evidence based decision making, critical in the early stages of drug development of novel antidepressant agents.
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