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Reduced specificity of autobiographical memory and depression: The role of executive control

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature review

T Dalgleish, J M G Williams, A M J Golden, N Perkins, L F Barrett, P J Barnard, C A Yeung, V Murphy, R Elward, K Tchanturia, E Watkins

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23 - 42
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007

King's Authors


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 I 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

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