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Memory for emotional stories in high and low depressed children

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Cognitive theories of depression emphasise a vicious circle linking depressed mood and biased recall towards negative information. In line with this, depressed adults show selectively enhanced recall for negative information. This recall bias is held to be mediated by increased accessibility of negative self-referent schemas formed as a result of adverse early experiences. Given this, surprisingly few studies have examined depression-related recall biases from a developmental perspective. Clinically depressed children have been found to show enhanced recall of negative adjectives, particularly when self-referent, but to date there is no evidence for similar recall biases in non-clinically depressed groups. The current study addressed this by investigating high and low non-clinically depressed children's (aged 5-11 years) recall of emotional stories. High depressed children showed enhanced recall of negative stories, relative to positive stories, compared to the low depressed group. This did not vary with age group. We conclude that, when child-oriented materials are used, depression-related biases in recall towards negative information are observable even in a non-clinical sample of children from 5 years of age.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: nstitute of Psychiatry, Kings College London, and MRC Cognition & Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge, UK 2: MRC Cognition & Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge, UK 3: Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London, UK

Publication date: March 1, 2004

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