Overgeneral autobiographical memory (OGM) is a key memory deficit in major depressive disorder (MDD). Much research has examined cognitive mechanisms underlying OGM, but little work has investigated potential neurobiological influences. There is preliminary evidence that a genetic serotonergic vulnerability coupled with depressive symptoms may be associated with other memory impairments, and experimental research suggests a role for serotonin in OGM. We investigated whether a polymorphism in the promoter region of the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR) was associated with OGM in interaction with a lifetime history of MDD in 370 young adults in a longitudinal study of risk for emotional disorders. There was a significant interaction between 5-HTTLPR genotype and lifetime history of MDD in predicting OGM. Among S allele homozygotes, MDD history was associated with greater OGM, whereas no significant relationship between MDD history and OGM emerged among L carriers. Furthermore, there was evidence that a greater number of S alleles were associated with greater memory specificity in individuals without a history of MDD. Implications for understanding cognitive and biological risk for depression are discussed.
- Autobiographical memory specificity
- Genetic association
- Overgeneral autobiographical memory
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)