Executive dysfunction and autobiographical memory retrieval in recovered depressed women.
Haddad ADM., Harmer CJ., Williams JMG.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Depressed individuals have difficulty remembering specific autobiographical events. These deficits often persist after recovery of mood symptoms, but the mechanisms underlying impaired memory specificity in recovered depressed individuals remain unclear. Here, we sought to examine whether performance on two cognitive measures might be related to deficits in autobiographical memory retrieval in individuals with a history of depression. METHODS: Twenty-four recovered depressed women (12 with more than one previous episode) and 24 never depressed women completed two cognitive measures (Digit Span and a Number Generation Task) and tests of autobiographical memory recall. RESULTS: Overall, the recovered depressed women did not show deficits in autobiographical retrieval. However, those with more than one previous episode had impaired retrieval of categorical autobiographical memories. Moreover, depression history moderated the relationship between Digit Span and retrieval of categoric autobiographical memories such that within the whole recovered depressed group (but not the never depressed group), those with lower Digit Span also had poorer retrieval of categorical autobiographical memories. LIMITATIONS: Our sample size was small and included only women. Moreover, order effects may have been a significant factor. CONCLUSIONS: These findings support the notion that working memory is an important factor in impairing autobiographical memory in those who have recovered from depression, but suggest a complex relationship with autobiographical recall.