Misremembrance of things past: Depression is associated with difficulties in the recollection of both specific and categoric autobiographical memories

OSF Preprints
Caitlin HitchcockTim Dalgleish

Abstract

Impaired retrieval of specific, autobiographical memories of personally experienced events is a key characteristic of major depressive disorder (MDD). However, there are findings in subclinical samples which suggest that the reduced specificity phenomenon may be a reflection of a broader impairment in the deliberate retrieval of all autobiographical memory types. This experiment explored this possibility by requiring individuals with MDD (N=68) to complete a cued-recall task which required retrieval of specific memories to a block of cues, retrieval of categoric, general memories to a block of cues, and to alternate between retrieval of specific and general memories for a block of cues. Results demonstrated that relative to never-depressed controls, individuals with MDD experience reduced recall of both specific, single incident memories (d=0.48) and general memories (d=1.00), along with reduced flexibility in alternating between specific and general memories (d=0.90), a skill vital to restraining negative beliefs. Findings indicate that the flexibility of autobiographical retrieval is important for mental health and support further development of autobiographical memory-based interventions which target a range of retrieval def...Continue Reading

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