Reduced specificity of autobiographical memory and depression: the role of executive control.
Dalgleish T., Williams JM., Golden AM., Perkins N., Barrett LF., Barnard PJ., Yeung CA., Murphy V., Elward R., Tchanturia K., Watkins E.
It has been widely established that depressed mood states and clinical depression, as well as a range of other psychiatric disorders, are associated with a relative difficulty in accessing specific autobiographical information in response to emotion-related cue words on an Autobiographical Memory Test (AMT; J. M. G. Williams & K. Broadbent, 1986). In 8 studies the authors examined the extent to which this relationship is a function of impaired executive control associated with these mood states and clinical disorders. Studies 1-4 demonstrated that performance on the AMT is associated with performance on measures of executive control, independent of depressed mood. Furthermore, Study 1 showed that executive control (as measured by verbal fluency) mediated the relationship between both depressed mood and a clinical diagnosis of eating disorder and AMT performance. Using a stratified sample in Study 5, the authors confirmed the positive association between depressed mood and impaired performance on the AMT. Studies 6-8 involved experimental manipulations of the parameters of the AMT designed to further indicate that reduced executive control is to a significant extent driving the relationship between depressed mood and AMT performance. The potential role of executive control in accounting for other aspects of the AMT literature is discussed.