Rumination relates to reduced autobiographical memory specificity in formerly depressed patients following a self-discrepancy challenge: The case of autobiographical memory specificity reactivity

Filip Raes*, Hanne Schoofs, James W. Griffith, Dirk Hermans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background and objectives: Reduced Autobiographical Memory Specificity (rAMS) is a hypothesized vulnerability factor for depression. Rumination is thought to be one of the processes underlying rAMS, but research has failed to show an association between trait rumination and rAMS in individuals who are not currently depressed (e.g., community samples, college samples, and formerly depressed samples). The present study tested whether a challenge procedure that induces a self-discrepancy focus can elicit an association between trait rumination and rAMS in formerly depressed participants. Methods: Trait rumination was assessed via self-report. Measures of psychopathology and cognitive function, including depression, were assessed via self-report and interview. Autobiographical Memory Specificity (AMS) was evaluated before and after the induction of a self-discrepancy focus in formerly depressed participants. Results: Results showed that trait rumination was indeed negatively correlated with AMS after, but not before the induction. Moreover, high trait ruminating participants showed a decrease in AMS following the induction. In other words, memory specificity was reactive to the induction, but no such decrease was observed in low trait ruminating individuals. Limitations: This study is mostly of women. These results may not generalize well to men. Our experimental control was within-subjects, which, although powerful and economical, cannot rule out certain confounding processes including natural changes in self-discrepancy, or non-specific or unintended effects of the induction. Conclusions: In order to detect rAMS in formerly depressed individuals or to observe associations between rAMS and trait measures of rumination, state ruminative processing needs to be activated. Results are discussed by framing rAMS as an example of cognitive reactivity, a general type of processing that is associated with depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1002-1007
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Volume43
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2012

Keywords

  • Autobiographical memory specificity
  • Cognitive reactivity
  • Depression
  • Overgeneral memory
  • Rumination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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