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Title: Autobiographical memory functioning and psychosis
Author: Wood, Nicola
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2003
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Autobiographical memory (AM) relates to the memories and information that we have about ourselves, events in our lives, and the world. Memory impairments have long been associated with psychosis, both in research and clinical observation (Tamlyn et al, 1992). It is already known that in comparison with the overall intellectual decline often found in individuals with chronic psychosis, disproportionate deficits can be found in executive functioning and memory, particularly long-term memory (McKay et al, 1995). Several studies have investigated autobiographical memory deficits in psychosis specifically (e.g. Feinstein et al, 1998; Kaney et al, 1992). All of these have found some deficit in autobiographical retrieval, although the nature of these deficits has varied or been conflicting. This study hoped to clarify the nature of these deficits and to compare the two most widely used measures of AM for the first time. This project investigated both the memory retrieval styles of individuals with psychosis i.e. specific or over-general, and the temporal gradient of their memories. Autobiographical retrieval performance was examined in a group of 20 participants experiencing positive symptoms of psychosis and matched controls using the AMI and the AMT. Working memory, verbal episodic memory and degree of depressive symptomatology were also taken into account. An overgeneral retrieval style of AM was found in the psychotic participants in comparison with the controls on both the measures, and this effect remained when working memory capacity and verbal episodic memory were controlled for. The psychotic group displayed an approximation to a u shaped temporal gradient for recall of personal facts and personal events, and the early adulthood period was found to be most impaired. The personal events schedule was found to be positively correlated with the AMT in the psychotic group, although no relationship was found between the AMT and the recall of personal facts. No association was found between the AMI and the AMT when administered to the control group. The implications of the results are discussed with respect to the theoretical understanding of autobiographical memory, the positive symptoms of psychosis, future research, and psychological treatments such as CBT for psychosis. The implications regarding the concurrent validity and clinical utility of the AMI and the AMT are also discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available