Memory for Emotional Trait Adjectives in Clinically Depressed Youth

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An experiment was conducted to examine memory for emotional trait adjectives in depressed children and adolescents. Two groups of children and adolescents, clinically depressed participants and nonclinical controls, were compared on computerized versions of recall and recognition memory tasks. Three groups of words (positive trait adjectives, negative trait adjectives, and categorized neutral words) were used in the experiment. Results showed that the depressed group recalled significantly more negative adjectives than positive adjectives, whereas the control group recalled the same number of positive and negative adjectives. This effect was predicted by the association between age and level of depression, with the depression-related bias becoming stronger with age. Signal detection analysis revealed that the depressed group did not show any bias in the recognition task. The findings are discussed with respect to cognitive theories of depression with consideration of the developmental implications.

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