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Title: Depression and overgeneral memory in older adults : the role of executive functioning
Author: Burns, Deirdre
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2014
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Background: Depression is a common presenting problem for older adults and Over General Memory (OGM) has also been found to be linked to depression. Recently it has been proposed that deficits in Executive Functioning (EF) could explain OGM (Williams et al., 2007). Despite studies in both child and adult populations, this hypothesis has yet to be tested in a depressed older adult sample. Aims: The main aim was to test the EF hypothesis for OGM in a depressed sample of adults aged 65 years and older. Additional aims were to add to the growing literature base investigating the relationship between the three variables (depression, OGM and EF) within an older adult population. Methods: 14 depressed older adults and 15 non-depressed older adults completed a series of EF neuropsychological tests and the Autobiographical Memory Test (AMT). Miyake et al.’s (2000) 3 facets model of EF was used to define EF. The Trail Making Test was used to test for ‘shifting’ ability, The Color-Word Inference Test was used to test for ‘inhibition’ and the Random Number Generation Test was used to test for ‘updating’. Results: Shifting ability was found to account for the relationship between depression and OGM within a sample of older adults. Although indications are that inhibition may also account for OGM the finding was narrowly non-significant. Updating was not found to account for the relationship between depression and OGM. Additionally, depressed individuals were found to have more OGM and EF deficits (shifting and inhibition only) than their non-depressed counterparts. OGM and deficits in EF (shifting and inhibition only) were found to be significantly positively correlated. Conclusions: Relationships between depression, OGM and EF in an older adult population were found. There is partial support for the EF hypothesis of OGM in older adults, as shifting ability was found to account for the relationship between depression and OGM. Findings indicate that inhibition may be a key element in explaining this relationship, although further research is needed to clarify this using larger sample sizes. Further research should aim to address certain methodological limitations of this study, such as larger sample sizes and using multiple neuropsychological tests per executive functioning ability.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BF Psychology ; RZ Other systems of medicine