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OBJECTIVES: While cognitive bias in younger adults with depression has been extensively researched, there have been relatively few investigations of the presence of cognitive bias in late life depression (LLD). This exploratory study aimed to ascertain whether negative cognitive bias exists across a range of cognitive domains in participants with LLD. METHODS/DESIGN: Participants were 19 patients with LLD and 19 matched non-depressed older adults. Participants completed standardised tests to assess bias in facial expression recognition, attention, recall of adjectives and interpretation. RESULTS: LLD participants were slower to identify surprised faces, and more likely to create negative statements in the interpretation task. There was no evidence of negative bias in memory or attention, but participants with LLD performed more poorly on the recall task. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides new evidence of negative bias in interpretation in LLD, but the findings are not consistent with a global cognitive bias Further work is needed to investigate cognitive bias in LLD. It may be that interventions which target negative interpretation biases, such as cognitive bias modification, could be helpful in treating LLD.

Original publication




Journal article


Int J Geriatr Psychiatry

Publication Date



facial expression recognition, interpretation, latelife depression, negative cognitive bias