Disruptions in autobiographical memory processing in depression and the emergence of memory therapeutics

Trends Cogn Sci. 2014 Nov;18(11):596-604. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2014.06.010. Epub 2014 Jul 21.


Depression is characterized by distinct profiles of disturbance in ways autobiographical memories are represented, recalled, and maintained. We review four core domains of difficulty: systematic biases in favor of negative material; impoverished access and responses to positive memories; reduced access to the specific details of the personal past; and dysfunctional processes of rumination and avoidance around personal autobiographical material. These difficulties drive the onset and maintenance of depression; consequently, interventions targeted at these maladaptive processes have clinical potential. Memory therapeutics is the development of novel clinical techniques, translated from basic research, that target memory difficulties in those with emotional disorders. We discuss prototypical examples from this clinical domain including MEmory Specificity Training, positive memory elaboration, memory rescripting, and the method-of-loci (MoL).

Keywords: autobiographical memory; depression; method-of-loci; overgeneral memory bias; suppression.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Depression / etiology
  • Depression / physiopathology
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Depression / therapy
  • Humans
  • Memory Disorders / complications
  • Memory Disorders / psychology
  • Memory Disorders / therapy*
  • Memory, Episodic*
  • Mental Recall