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Title: An examination of the relationship between depression, autobiographical memory specificity and executive function
Author: Malone, Catherine
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis is submitted in partial fulfilment of a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the University of Liverpool. It focuses on the frequently reported finding of reduced specificity of autobiographical memory in participants diagnosed with depression (Williams & Broadbent; 1986, van Vreeswijk & de Wilde; 2004). That is, difficulty recalling the who, what, where and when, of a remembered event. The focus of investigation particularly within the thesis is that of executive functioning; a term describing a range of higher order cognitive functions that control and integrate other activities such as planning, sequencing, initiation. It is examined in relation to depression. The thesis is presented in paper form; Chapter 1 contains a systematic review of 9 research studies related to executive function in the memory specificity of participants with a diagnosis of depression. While executive functioning does appear to be related to reduced specificity the findings in the literature are not consistent highlighting the need for further research. The original empirical paper presented in Chapter 2 tests out hypotheses related to the claims of reduced specificity and executive functioning in participants with a diagnosis of depression (Burt, Zembar, & Niederehe, 1995). These hypotheses are based on the conclusions drawn from the review paper in Chapter 1. It concludes that while overall participants with a diagnosis of depression produce fewer memories overall, and particularly fewer specific memories, this difference can be reduced with modified materials which are more concrete and imaginable. These modified materials can also produce more specific memories overall. In addition, regardless of depression status, executive functioning has a significant impact on autobiographical memory specificity. These key findings are developed in an extended discussion in Chapter 3 and discussed in terms of their value and application to practices in clinical psychology. Chapter 3 also contains research dissemination for participants and a future research proposal expanding the scope of investigation from depression to trauma.
Supervisor: Reilly, James; Howe, M. L. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry