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Title: Examining cognitive risk and protective factors involved in liability to depression
Author: Davidovich, Shiri D.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7229 2188
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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Major depressive disorder is characterized by emotion dysregulation and an imbalance between negative and positive affect. Cognitive impairments may underlie the difficulties with emotion regulation shown in depression. However, additional studies are needed to explore cognitive risk and protective factors for depression, especially with regard to cognitive processes involved in information processing that are assessed using performance based measures. This thesis explored three areas of cognitive processes that have been highlighted as potential risk and protective factors: executive functions, specificity of autobiographical memory and reward processing. These were examined with a focus on individuals at familial risk for depression. First, the protective role of executive functioning was explored for adolescent offspring of depressed parents. This examination found that in the presence of a current depressive episode in the parent, adolescents with better executive functions had fewer depressive symptoms. Second, specificity in retrieval of autobiographical memory was examined as a predictor of mental health resilience and social functioning in the same high risk sample. This revealed that impairment in retrieving specific memories was associated with lower mood resilience and poorer social functioning over time. Third, associations between reward learning behavior in a social context and indices of familial risk, anhedonia, depressive symptoms and social functioning were examined in a sample of young adult offspring of parents with and without a history of depression. The findings suggested that familial risk, anhedonia and social functioning were associated with specific patterns of reward learning behavior. Finally, due to a lack of measures evaluating reward processing in adolescents, particularly in a social context, I developed and validated a novel measure to assess sensitivity to social rewards in adolescents. Altogether, the findings presented in the thesis advance understanding of cognitive risk and protective factors in depression, especially in the context of individuals at familial risk for depression.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available