Memory for Emotional and Nonemotional Events in Depression

Paula Hertel

in Memory and Emotion

Published in print January 2004 | ISBN: 9780195158564
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199848126 | DOI:

Series: Series in Affective Science

Memory for Emotional and                         Nonemotional Events in Depression

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This chapter addresses what is by far the largest research area in the examination of memory in clinical groups — research conducted with depressed or naturally unhappy (but possibly non-diagnosed) people. It explores the connection between memory phenomena and habits of thought. More so than most anxious people, depressed people ruminate about their troubles. The practiced thought patterns of rumination facilitate memory for emotionally consistent events and interfere with memory for other events. Moreover, these habits take over under conditions of poor cognitive control, the main feature of cognition in depression. Here, depression is used imprecisely to refer to both diagnostic categories and the self-reported state of dysphoria. “Dysphoria” is used to denote undiagnosed negative affect, of the sort that produces moderate-to-high scores on the Beck Depression Inventory. The chapter argues that the negative consequences of habitual thinking can be overcome by external control or by the training of new habits of thought.

Keywords: memory; habits of thought; depression; dysphoria; rumination; cognitive control; cognition; habitual thinking

Chapter.  13897 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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