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Reduced specificity of autobiographical memories in young people with tic disorders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Victoria Jane Devereux Pile, Sally Jane Robinson, Elystan Roberts, Marta Topor, Tammy Hedderly, Yun Fai Lau

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31
Number of pages37
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
Early online date6 Mar 2018
Accepted/In press28 Feb 2018
E-pub ahead of print6 Mar 2018
Published6 Mar 2018


King's Authors


OBJECTIVE: Depression is common in Tourette syndrome and Chronic Tic Disorders (TS/CTD) and contributes to significant impairment. The specificity of autobiographical memories is implicated in an individual's sense of self and their daily functioning but also in the onset and development of depression in the general population. Here, we examined whether memory specificity is reduced in young people with TS/CTD, relative to control participants, and whether memory specificity is associated with depression. METHOD: Thirty young people with TS/CTD (14 females; age: x̅ = 11.31; SD = 1.66; 87% White British) and twenty-six (12 females; age: x̅ = 11.23; SD = 2.43; 77% White British) control participants completed the study. Participants completed the Autobiographical Memory Task, which asks participants to respond with a specific memory to cue words, and a questionnaire measure of depressive symptoms. RESULTS: There was no significant difference between the two groups in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, IQ and depressive symptomatology. Young people with TS/CTD had less specific autobiographical memories than their peers (p < 0.001, r = 0.49). Across both groups, increased memory specificity for positive cue words was associated with reduced depressive symptomatology (p < 0.001, R2  = 0.51). CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that autobiographical memory in young people with TS is characterised by a lack of specificity and, as with neurotypical peers, reduced memory specificity for positive words is associated with depressive symptoms. Autobiographical memory specificity could be an important factor in understanding mood symptoms that characterise young people with TS/CTD and may be an important cognitive target to reduce the development of depression in young people with TS/CTD.

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