International Journal of Cognitive Therapy

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 287–298 | Cite as

Implicit Mood Congruent Memory Bias in Subclinical Depression

  • C. H. C. Del ValleEmail author
  • P. M. Mateos


Prior literature reports that the activation of conceptual processing is necessary, albeit insufficient, for the detection of implicit mood congruent memory bias. The purpose of this research was to investigate the effects of self-referential processing on this bias in individuals with subclinical depression. Two groups of participants (subclinical depressed vs. non-depressed) were given a perceptive or conceptual implicit memory task involving adjectives that varied in terms of their emotional valence and the manner in which they had been encoded. Our main finding was that those individuals with subclinical depression recorded a bias in the conceptual task, but only when they had encoded the content in a more self-referential manner. The findings are consistent with the activation of cognitive self-schema during the processing of emotional information of a self-referential nature in subclinical depression.


Implicit memory Conceptual priming Self-reference Emotion Subclinical depression 


  1. Baert, S., Koster, E. H. W., & De Raedt, R. (2011). Modification of information-processing biases in emotional disorders: clinically relevant developments in experimental psychopathology. International Journal of Cognitive Therapy, 4, 208–222. Scholar
  2. Barry, E. S., Naus, M. J., & Rehm, L. P. (2004). Depression and implicit memory: understanding mood congruent memory bias. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 28, 387–414. Scholar
  3. Barry, E. S., Naus, M. J., & Rehm, L. P. (2006). Depression, implicit memory, and self: a revised memory model of emotion. Clinical Psychology Review, 26, 719–745. Scholar
  4. Bazin, N., Perruchet, P., De Bonis, M., & Feline, A. (1994). The dissociation of explicit and implicit memory in depressed patients. Psychological Medicine, 24, 238–245. Scholar
  5. Beck, A. T. (1976). Cognitive therapy and the emotional disorders. New York: International Universities Press.Google Scholar
  6. Beck, A. T., Rush, A. J., Shaw, B. F., & Emery, E. (1979). Cognitive therapy in depression. New York: Guilford (Spanish translation published by Desclée de Brower, 1983, Bilbao).Google Scholar
  7. Beeney, J., & Arnett, P. A. (2008). Stress and memory bias interact to predict depression in multiple sclerosis. Neuropsychology, 22, 118–126. Scholar
  8. Beevers, C. G. (2005). Cognitive vulnerability to depression: a dual process model. Clinical Psychology Review, 25, 975–1002. Scholar
  9. Besche-Richard, C. (2013). Explicit and implicit memory in depressive patients. Review of the literature. Psychology, 4, 4–4,10. Scholar
  10. Bradley, B. P., Mogg, K., & Williams, R. (1995). Implicit and explicit memory for emotional information in non-clinical subjects. Behaviour Research Therapy, 32, 65–78. Scholar
  11. Budd, T. W., & Carroll, M. (1994). The effects of modality and elaboration on perceptual identification. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 47, 589–605.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Butler, L. T., & Berry, D. C. (2001). Implicit memory: intention and awareness revisited. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 5, 192–197. Scholar
  13. Clark, D. A., Beck, A. T., & Alford, B. A. (1999). Scientific foundations of cognitive theory and therapy of depression. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  14. Danion, J. M., Kauffmann-Muller, F., Grange, D., Zimmerman, M. A., & Greth, P. (1995). Affective valence of words, explicit and implicit memory in clinical depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 34, 227–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. De Raedt, R., & Koster, H. W. (2010). Understanding vulnerability for depression from a cognitive neuroscience perspective: a reappraisal of attentional factors and a new conceptual framework. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 10, 50–70. Scholar
  16. Denny, E. R., & Hunt, R. R. (1992). Affective valence and memory in depression: dissociation of recall and fragment completion. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 101, 575–580.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Derry, P. A., & Kuiper, N. A. (1981). Schematic processing and self-reference in clinical depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 90, 286–297. Scholar
  18. Ellwart, T., Rinck, M., & Becker, E. S. (2003). Selective memory and memory deficits in depressed inpatients. Depression and Anxiety, 17, 197–206. Scholar
  19. Everaert, J., Koster, E. H. W., & Derakshan, N. (2012). The combined cognitive bias hypothesis in depression. Clinical Psychology Review, 32, 413–424. Scholar
  20. Everaert, J., Duyck, W., & Koster, E. H. W. (2014). Attention, interpretation, and memory biases in subclinical depression: a proof-of-principle test of the combined cognitive biases hypothesis. Emotion, 14, 331–340. Scholar
  21. Everaert, J., Duyck, W., & Koster, E. H. W. (2015). Emotionally biased cognitive processes: the weakest link predicts prospective changes in depressive symptom severity. PLoS One, 10(5), e0124457. Scholar
  22. Fernández-Rey, J., & Merino, H. (2002). Sesgos de memoria implícita Para la información emocional en depresión subclínica. [implicit memory bias concerning emotional information in subclinical depression]. Psicothema, 14, 795–801.Google Scholar
  23. Gotlib, I. H., & Joormann, J. (2010). Cognition and depression: current status and future directions. Annual Reviews of Clinical Psychology, 6, 285–312. Scholar
  24. Gotlib, I. H., Kasch, K. L., Traill, S., Joormann, J., Arnow, B. A., & Johnson, S. L. (2004). Coherence and specificity of information-processing bias in depression and social phobia. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 113, 386–398. Scholar
  25. Hartlage, S., Alloy, L. B., Vázquez, C., & Dykman, B. (1993). Automatic and effortful processing in depression. Psychological Bulletin, 113, 247–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hertel, P. T., & Milan, S. (1994). Depressive deficits in recognition: dissociation of recollection and familiarity. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 103, 736–742.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hervás, G., & Vázquez, C. (2006). Explorando el origen emocional de las respuestas rumiativas: El papel de la complejidad emocional y la inteligencia emocional. [exploring the emotional precursors of ruminative styles: The role of emotional complexity and emotional intelligence]. Ansiedad y Estrés, 12(2–3), 279–292.Google Scholar
  28. Ilsley, J. E., Moffoot, A. P. R., & O’Carroll, R. E. (1995). An analysis of memory dysfunction in major depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 35, 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Jenkins, W., & McDowall, J. (2001). Implicit memory and depression: an analysis of perceptual and conceptual processes. Cognition and Emotion, 15(6), 803–812. Scholar
  30. Jiménez, F., Vázquez, C., & Hernangómez, L. (1998). Adjetivos en castellano de contenido depresivo autorreferente y de contenido neutra: normas de emocionalidad y frecuencia subjetiva de uso [Self-referent depressive adjectives and neutral-content adjectives in Spanish: Norms of emotionality and subjective frequency of use]. Revista de Psicopatología y Psicología Clínica, 3, 199–215.Google Scholar
  31. Kuiper, N. A., & Derry, P. A. (1982). Depressed and nondepressed content self-reference in mild depressives. Journal of Personality, 50, 67–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lyubomirsky, S., & Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (1995). Effects of self-focused rumination on negative thinking and interpersonal problem solving. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 176–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lyubomirsky, S., Caldwell, N. D., & Nolen Hoeksema, S. (1998). Effects of ruminative and distracting responses to depressed mood on retrieval of autobiographical memories. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 166–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Moliner, M. (2008). Diccionario de uso del español María Moliner. [Spanish dictionary of usage María Moliner]. (3rd ed.). Madrid: Gredos.Google Scholar
  35. Morris, C. D., Bransford, J. D., & Franks, J. J. (1977). Levels of processing versus transfer-appropriate processing. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 16, 519–533.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mulligan, N. W. (2011). Implicit memory and depression: preserved conceptual priming in subclinical depression. Cognition & Emotion, 25, 730–739. Scholar
  37. Nieto, M., Hervás, G., & Vázquez, C. (2006). Palabras de contenido paranoide y depresivo en castellano: Especificidad, frecuencia de uso y grado de emocionalidad [Spanish words with a paranoid content: Frequency of use, emotionality and specificity with respect to depressive contents]. Revista de Psicopatología y Psicología Clínica, 11, 165–178.Google Scholar
  38. Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (1991). Responses to depression and their effects on the duration of depressive episodes. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 100, 569–582. Scholar
  39. Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2000). The role of rumination in depressive disorders and mixed anxiety/depressive symptoms. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 109, 504–511.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Nolen-Hoeksema, S., Morrow, J., & Fredrickson, B. L. (1993). Response styles and the duration of episodes of depressed mood. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 102, 20–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Northup, T., & Mulligan, N. (2012). Conceptual implicit memory in advertising research. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 27, 127–136. Scholar
  42. Phillips, W. J., Hine, D. H., & Bhullar, N. (2012). A latent profile analysis of implicit and explicit cognitions associated with depression. Cognitive Therapy Research, 36, 458–473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ramponi, C., Nayagam, J. S., & Barnard, P. J. (2009). Conceptual implicit memory in subclinical depression. Cognit Emot, 23, 551–568. Scholar
  44. Ramponi, C., Handelsman, G., & Barnard, P. J. (2010). The memory enhancement effect of emotion is absent in conceptual implicit memory. Emotion, 10, 294–299. Scholar
  45. Rehm, L. P., & Naus, M. J. (1990). A memory model of emotion. In R. E. Ingram (Ed.), Contemporary psychological approaches to depression (pp. 23–35). New York: Plenum.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Roediger, H. L. (1990). Implicit memory: retention without remembering. American Psychologist, 45, 1043–1056.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Roediger, H. L., & McDermott, K. B. (1993). Implicit memory in normal human subjects. In F. Boller & J. Grafman (Eds.), Handbook of neuropsychology (pp. 63–131). Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  48. Roediger, H. L., Srinivas, K., & Weldon, M. S. (1989). Dissociations between implicit measures of retention. In S. Lewandowsky, J. C. Dunn, & Kirsner (Eds.), Implicit memory: Theoretical issues (pp. 67–84). Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  49. Romero, N., Sánchez, A., & Vázquez, C. (2014). Memory biases in remitted depression: the role of negative cognitions at explicit and automatic processing levels. Journal of Behavior Therapy & Experimental Psychiatry, 45, 128–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Ruipérez, M. A., & Belloch, A. (1997). Depresión y autoesquemas depresivos en pacientes deprimidos y ansiosos. [Depression and depressive self-schemas in depressed and anxious patients]. Revista de Psicopatología y Psicología Clínica, 2, 65–80.Google Scholar
  51. Ruiz-Caballero, J. A., & González, P. (1996). Depresión, memoria implícita y procesamiento de la información emocional [Depression, implicit memory and the processing of emotional information]. Revista de Psicología General y Aplicada, 49, 103–110.Google Scholar
  52. Ruiz-Caballero, J. A., & Sánchez, C. (2001). Depresión y memoria ¿Es la información congruente con el estado de ánimo más accesible? [Depression and memory: is mood-congruent information more accessible?]. Psicothema, 13, 193–196.Google Scholar
  53. Sanz, J., & Vázquez, C. (1998). El inventario para la depresión de Beck (BDI) como instrumento para identificar sujetos deprimidos y no deprimidos en la investigación psicopatológica: Fiabilidad, validez y datos normativos en muestras universitarias. [Reliability, validity, and normative data of the Beck Depression Inventory]. Psicothema, 10, 303–318.Google Scholar
  54. Schacter, D. L. (1990). Introduction to “implicit memory: multiple perspectives”. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 28, 338–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Teasdale, J., & Barnard, P. (1993). Affect, cognition and change. Hove: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  56. Vázquez, C., Hervás, G., Hernangómez, L., & Romero, N. (2010). Modelos cognitivos de la depresión: Una síntesis y nueva propuesta basada en 30 años de investigación. [cognitive models of depression: a summary and new recommendation based on 30 years’ research]. Behavioral Psychology, 18, 139–165.Google Scholar
  57. Watkins, P. C. (2002). Implicit memory bias in depression. Cognition and Emotion, 16, 381–402. Scholar
  58. Watkins, P. C., Mathews, A., Williams, D. A., & Fuller, R. D. (1992). Mood-congruent memory in depression: emotional priming or elaboration? J Abnorm Psychol, 101, 581–586. Scholar
  59. Watkins, P. C., Vache, K., Verney, S. P., Muller, S., & Mathews, A. (1996). Unconscious mood-congruent memory bias in depression. J Abnorm Psychol, 105, 34–41. Scholar
  60. Watkins, P. C., Grimm, D. L., May, S., Krueger, E., & Whitney, A. (2000a). Impact of self-referent processing on unconscious memory bias in depression. Paper presented at the 12th annual convention of the American psychological society. Miami Beach, FL.Google Scholar
  61. Watkins, P. C., Martin, C. K., & Stern, L. D. (2000b). Unconscious memory bias in depression: perceptual and conceptual processes. J Abnorm Psychol, 109, 282–289. Scholar
  62. Wisco, B. E. (2009). Depressive cognition: self-reference and depth of processing. Clin Psychol Rev, 29, 382–392. Scholar

Copyright information

© International Association of Cognitive Psychotherapy 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Basic PsychologyUniversity of SalamancaSalamancaSpain

Personalised recommendations