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A preliminary study of autobiographical memory in remitted bipolar and unipolar depression and the role of imagery in the specificity of memory

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Autobiographical memory was investigated in a sample of 19 individuals with remitted bipolar affective disorder and a community sample of 16 individuals with remitted unipolar depression who had similar low levels of current symptoms. Each participant was prompted to recall one positive memory and one negative memory, to rate it on several scales, and to describe it in detail. Relative to the remitted unipolar group, the remitted bipolar group reported more general than specific negative memories and more frequent recollections of the negative memory during their everyday life. Across the sample, 95% of all specific memories involved a mental image, whereas only 56% of all general memories involved a mental image, suggesting a role of imagery in the retrieval of a specific memory. Characteristic examples of memories are provided. These results are preliminary yet they suggest that patients with bipolar disorder in remission may show memory characteristics that are often associated with symptomatic unipolar depression.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Psychiatry, University of London, UK

Publication date: July 1, 2004

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