Autobiographical memory specificity in response to verbal and pictorial cues in clinical depression

Nathan Ridout (Lead / Corresponding author), Barbara Dritschel, Keith Matthews, Ronan O'Carroll

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    8 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    BACKGROUND: Depressed individuals have been consistently shown to exhibit problems in accessing specific memories of events from their past and instead tend to retrieve categorical summaries of events. The majority of studies examining autobiographical memory changes associated with psychopathology have tended to use word cues, but only one study to date has used images (with PTSD patients).

    OBJECTIVE: to determine if using images to cue autobiographical memories would reduce the memory specificity deficit exhibited by patients with depression in comparison to healthy controls.

    METHODS: Twenty-five clinically depressed patients and twenty-five healthy controls were assessed on two versions of the autobiographical memory test; cued with emotional words and images.

    RESULTS: Depressed patients retrieved significantly fewer specific memories, and a greater number of categorical, than did the controls. Controls retrieved a greater proportion of specific memories to images compared to words, whereas depressed patients retrieved a similar proportion of specific memories to both images and words.

    LIMITATIONS: no information about the presence and severity of past trauma was collected.

    CONCLUSIONS: results suggest that the overgeneral memory style in depression generalises from verbal to pictorial cues. This is important because retrieval to images may provide a more ecologically valid test of everyday memory experiences than word-cued retrieval..

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)109-115
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
    Volume51
    Early online date13 Jan 2016
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016

    Keywords

    • Overgeneral memory
    • Specificity
    • Depression
    • Autobiographical memory test
    • Imagery

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