J Exp Psychol Gen 2007 Feb;136(1):23-42
Emotion Research Group, Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge, England.
It has been widely established that depressed mood states and clinical depression, as well as a range of other psychiatric disorders, are associated with a relative difficulty in accessing specific autobiographical information in response to emotion-related cue words on an Autobiographical Memory Test (AMT; J. M. G. Williams & K. Broadbent, 1986). In 8 studies the authors examined the extent to which this relationship is a function of impaired executive control associated with these mood states and clinical disorders. Studies 1-4 demonstrated that performance on the AMT is associated with performance on measures of executive control, independent of depressed mood. Furthermore, Study 1 showed that executive control (as measured by verbal fluency) mediated the relationship between both depressed mood and a clinical diagnosis of eating disorder and AMT performance. Using a stratified sample in Study 5, the authors confirmed the positive association between depressed mood and impaired performance on the AMT. Studies 6-8 involved experimental manipulations of the parameters of the AMT designed to further indicate that reduced executive control is to a significant extent driving the relationship between depressed mood and AMT performance. The potential role of executive control in accounting for other aspects of the AMT literature is discussed.