Psychometric Properties of the Verbal Affective Memory Test-26 and Evaluation of Affective Biases in Major Depressive Disorder

Front Psychol. 2020 Jun 5;11:961. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00961. eCollection 2020.

Abstract

We developed the Verbal Affective Memory Test-26 (VAMT-26), a computerized test to assess verbal memory, as an improvement of the Verbal Affective Memory Test-24 (VAMT-24). Here, we psychometrically evaluate the VAMT-26 in 182 healthy controls, examine 1-month test-retest stability in 48 healthy controls, and examine whether 87 antidepressant-free patients diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) tested with VAMT-26 differed in affective memory biases from 335 healthy controls tested with VAMT24/26. We also examine whether affective memory biases are associated with depressive symptoms across the patients and healthy controls. VAMT-26 showed good psychometric properties. Age, sex, and IQ, but not education, influenced VAMT-26 scores. VAMT-26 scores converged satisfactorily with scores on a test associated with non-affective verbal memory. Test-retest analyses showed a learning effect and a r ≥ 0.0.8, corresponding to a typical variation of 10% in recalled words from first to second test. Patients tended to remember more negative words relative to positive words compared to healthy controls at borderline significance (p = 0.06), and affective memory biases were negatively associated with depressive symptoms across the two groups at borderline significance (p = 0.07), however, the effect sizes were small. Future studies are needed to address whether VAMT-26 can be used to distinguish between depression subtypes in patients with MDD. As a verbal memory test, VAMT-26 is a well validated neuropsychological test and we recommend it to be used in Danish and international studies on affective memory.

Keywords: VAMT-24; VAMT-26; affective memory biases; immediate recall; long-term memory; major depression disorder; short-term memory.