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Title: Effect of valenced stimuli on hippocampus-dependent spatial memory in depression
Author: Williams, Janice
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis focused on neurobiological changes in depression. Part 1 reviewed research investigating the relationship between trauma in childhood, depression in adulthood and dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The reviewed studies provided some evidence for associated changes to the HPA axis, however, there was inconsistency in findings as to whether this was linked to childhood trauma or depression in adulthood independently, or an interaction of the two. The studies provided tentative evidence for a specific sub-type of depression, associated with a history of childhood trauma, but study heterogeneity and lack of replication mean further research is needed. Part 2 reported an investigation into the effects on hippocampus-dependent spatial memory of using valenced stimuli (neutral, negative) for both people with depression and healthy controls. No influence of valence on memory performance was found, counter to the hypotheses. However, some interesting effects of sex were found, warranting further investigation. Potential reasons for the null results were explored, along with suggestions for further research to allow these reasons to be examined. This investigation formed part of a joint study with Line Sagfors (trainee clinical psychologist, UCL; Sagfors, 2017). Part 3 reflected on some of the methodological issues and learnings from the major research project, including adapting an existing spatial memory test and working with a mental health service and clinical population. It explored the advantages of conducting joint DClinPsy research, both practical and emotional, and ended with some brief reflections on the challenges of the literature review.
Supervisor: King, J. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available