Associations between depression, trauma, and earliest autobiographical memories

Ginsburg, Rebecca (2016) Associations between depression, trauma, and earliest autobiographical memories. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Overgeneral autobiographical memory bias refers to the tendency to recall general life events rather than specific life events. Previous research has demonstrated a higher prevalence of this bias among individuals with a lifetime history of depression and/or trauma symptoms compared to healthy controls. This association has been found across many age groups and cultural groups, most often by using the Autobiographical Memory Test (AMT). In the current study, two memory tasks designed to elicit earliest autobiographical memories (i.e., before the age of 6) were used in addition to the AMT to investigate whether an overgeneral memory bias could be detected in individuals’ earliest childhood memories. University students (N = 89) were asked to complete a minimal instructions version of the AMT, the Memory Fluency Task, and a Detailed Memory Task in which participants generated their three earliest memories. Additionally, they were asked to complete measures of depression (Structured Clinical Interview for DSMIV; Beck Depression Inventory-II), trauma (Childhood Trauma Questionnaire; Impact of Event Scale—Revised), and general psychopathology (Brief Symptom Inventory), in order to be classified as “clinical” versus control. The results showed that the AMT was the only memory task to yield significant differences between the “clinical” and control groups. Scores on the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire were predicted by qualities of participants’ three earliest memories, while none of the other clinical measures were predicted by performance on any of the memory tasks. The implications of these findings are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 12471
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 87-101).
Keywords: Autobiographical Memory, Overgeneral Memory, Memory Specificity, Infantile Amnesia, Childhood Amnesia, Emotional Disorder, Depression, Trauma
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Psychology
Science, Faculty of > Psychology
Date: October 2016
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Autobiographical memory; Memory disorders; Memory in children; Psychic trauma in children

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