The tendency to have an enhanced response to negative facial expressions is common in people with depression. The findings of a new study show that treatment can reduce this bias. People with depression can be highly sensitive to negative events. Past studies have found that these individuals can recollect negative words and identify sad facial expressions more accurately than those not living with depression. These findings fall into the emotional information processing category. A new study, appearing in Biological Psychology, has investigated whether a similar pattern occurs in a different form of information processing. Automatic information processing refers to cognitive processes that occur with little effort or attention from the person. For example, walking or driving a car. Researchers at the University of Finland, wanted to see whether the negative bias in emotional information processing happened automatically and whether the findings changed over time.It is important to study the automatic processing phase because the brain constantly encodes stimuli that are outside of the conscious attention, says doctoral student Elisa Ruohonen. Following the methods of earlier studies, the researchers chose pictures of facial expressions as the stimuli to examine whether a relationship exists between brain responses to sad expressions and the outcome of cognitive therapy. We aim to find brain response markers that could be used to predict treatment response, Ruohonen states, adding: "It is important to take into account the heterogeneity of depression and individual factors that could affect treatment response.