Category: Child / Adolescent - Depression
Overgeneral autobiographical memory (OGM) has been established as a risk factor for depression in both youth and adults, but questions remain as to how this memory bias develops. Furthermore, although theorists have proposed that the experience of stressful life events may contribute to the development of this cognitive vulnerability, no studies have prospectively examined changes in OGM following the experience of episodic life stress. Therefore, the current study examined whether stressful life events predict prospective increases in OGM in youth. Specifically, we predicted that the experience of stressful life events would predict increases in OGM for both positive and negative cues. Additionally, as offspring of depressed mothers have been shown to have elevated levels of OGM, we hypothesized that the relation between stress and increases in OGM would be stronger for youth of depressed mothers. Mothers and their biological children between the ages of 8 and 14 (n = 251) were evaluated at 5 separate time points, each spaced 6 months apart. Mothers’ histories of MDD during their child’s life were assessed at the initial time point. Youth’s OGM was assessed at each time point using the Autobiographical Memory Test (AMT) and episodes of acute life stress were assessed at all 5 time points using a structured interview. Focusing first on the impact of life stress on increases in youth’s OGM, hierarchical linear modeling revealed that episodic life stress predicted prospective increases in OGM to positive, but not negative, cues. However, maternal history of depression did not moderate the impact of life stress on increases in OGM. These results contribute to the current body of literature on OGM, and are the first to prospectively examine the role of life stress in the development of this memory bias.
Cope Feurer– Graduate Student, Binghamton University (SUNY), Binghamton, New York
Mary Woody– University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
Aliona Tsypes– Graduate Student, Binghamton University (SUNY), Binghamton, New York
Katie Burkhouse– Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Illinois at Chicago
Katelynn Champagne– Medical Student, Stony Brook University School of Medicine
Brandon Gibb– Professor of Psychology and Director of Clinical Training, Binghamton University (SUNY), Binghamton, New York