Relation between rumination and impaired memory in dysphoric moods

J Abnorm Psychol. 1998 Feb;107(1):166-72. doi: 10.1037//0021-843x.107.1.166.


College students in dysphoric or nondysphoric moods studied pairs of words and later took a fragment-completion test of memory for targets from the pairs (under process-dissociation procedures for obtaining estimates of controlled and automatic retrieval; L. L. Jacoby, 1996). Between the study and test phases, some participants waited quietly for 7 min; others rated self-focused materials designed to invoke ruminations in the dysphoric group; and still others rated self-irrelevant and task-irrelevant materials. A dysphoria-related impairment in controlled retrieval occurred in the first 2 conditions but not in the 3rd condition. These results show that the nature of task-irrelevant thoughts contributes to memory impairments in dysphoria and suggest that self-focused rumination might also contribute to similar impairments under unconstrained conditions that permit mind wandering.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Attention
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall*
  • Paired-Associate Learning
  • Retention, Psychology
  • Students / psychology