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Cognitive avoidance of intrusive memories and autobiographical memory: Specificity, autonoetic consciousness, and self-perspective

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Autobiographical memory (AM) specificity is impaired in depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Previous studies emphasised the role of cognitive avoidance of intrusive memories in this impairment. This study aimed to examine the association of cognitive avoidance of intrusive memories with specificity, autonoetic consciousness, and self-perspective. A total of 38 healthy participants were given the revised Impact of Event Scale (IES-R) and an AM task designed to assess positive and negative memories regarding specificity, autonoetic consciousness (remember/know procedure), and self-perspective (field/observer procedure). Taking into account age, verbal IQ, mood, harm avoidance, and executive resources, the IES-R avoidance subscale was negatively correlated with specificity and remember responses for positive memories, and with remember and field responses for negative memories. These findings suggest that cognitive avoidance of intrusive memories is associated with a decrease of the episodic components of AM retrieval.
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Keywords: Avoidance; Consciousness; Emotion; Episodic memory; Self

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: CNRS UMR 7593, IFR Neurosciences Pitie-Salpetriere, and Department of C-L Psychiatry, European Georges Pompidou Hospital, Assistance publique-Hopitaux de Paris, Paris, France 2: CNRS UMR 7593, IFR Neurosciences Pitie-Salpetriere, Paris, France 3: CNRS UMR 8189, Institute of Psychology, Paris Descartes University, Paris, France 4: CNRS UMR 7593, IFR Neurosciences Pitie-Salpetriere, and Department of Psychiatry, Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital, Assistance publique-Hopitaux de Paris, Paris, France

Publication date: October 1, 2008

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