Duration of Recovery and Susceptibility to Criticism-Induced Information-Processing Biases in Major Depression
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CitationAngel, Jason. 2012. Duration of Recovery and Susceptibility to Criticism-Induced Information-Processing Biases in Major Depression. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
AbstractMajor depression is a highly prevalent disorder that affects millions of individuals worldwide each year. Theorists such as Aaron T. Beck (1967; 1976) revolutionized how depression is understood by proposing that cognitive factors are involved in the etiology and maintenance of depression. Inspired by his and other cognitive theories, researchers have documented negative biases in attentional and interpretive cognitive processing of emotional stimuli in individuals with major depressive disorder. However, very little cognitive research has been conducted on individuals with a past history of depression or at different time points since their depressive episode. Also, researchers have not tested whether criticism, a known psychosocial predictor of relapse, exacerbates information-processing biases in people with major depression or reactivates such biases in people in various stages of recovery from the disorder (Butzlaff & Hooley, 1998; Hooley & Gotlib, 2000). As criticism has been implicated in psychiatric relapse, its impact was tested on both formerly depressed persons who are potentially at risk for relapse and recurrence of a depressive episode. The current study was designed to test whether criticism was capable of evoking information-processing biases in attending to and interpreting ambiguous stimuli. Participants (n = 115) at different points in their recovery from depression (i.e. remitted [n = 33] and recovered depressed participants [n = 24]), healthy controls (n = 43) were randomized into either a twenty-second auditory negative mood induction (criticism) or a twenty-second neutral auditory comment. Currently depressed participants (n = 15) were always administered the twenty-second neutral auditory comment. Participants then performed four information-processing tasks: an acoustic word pairs task, a signal detection (probabilistic reward processing) task, a morphing faces task, and a dot probe task. I predicted that the criticism challenge would induce a negative mood state in participants and consequently affect their performance on information-processing tasks by eliciting more negative cognitive biases particularly in the remitted and recovered depressed groups as compared to the control group. I predicted that currently depressed participants would demonstrate the greatest cognitive biases. Consistent with predictions, criticism increased negative mood and decreased positive mood, as compared to no change in mood in the neutral comment condition. Contrary to expectation, criticism did not exacerbate information-processing biases. Clinical status predicted performance on only one information-processing task. Compared to healthy control participants, current and remitted depressed participants demonstrated greater negative interpretive biases by indicating that they more frequently heard negative as compared to neutral words on the acoustic word pairs task. They also more frequently interpreted ambiguous material as neutral rather than positive on the acoustic word pairs task. No significant differences emerged among the clinical groups on the other information-processing tasks. These results suggest that individuals remitted from depression continue to exhibit some interpretive biases even after full recovery. This research also demonstrates significant mood changes in response to criticism, but no effect on information-processing performance. This study suggests that depressed and formerly depressed individuals may not exhibit attentional biases for negative material, but may exhibit interpretive biases irrespective of whether they have undergone a negative mood induction.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:10336877
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