The effects of depressive symptoms on memory distortion for orthographic associates : a behavioral and EEG investigation
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While everyone is prone to memory errors, individuals with cognitive biases like negative attention bias may differ in their susceptibility to memory distortion. Negative attention bias, which is frequently comorbid with depressive symptoms, has been associated with increased false memory for negative stimuli. Across two experiments, we used lists of orthographically associated words to analyze responses to novel emotional stimuli between individuals with depressive symptoms and healthy controls. In Experiment 1, participants encoded neutral words that were orthographically associated with neutral, negative, or positive critical lures. Then, they completed a recognition memory test on the words shown during encoding (old items) and the critical lures (novel items). We did not find differences in false alarms to novel stimuli between groups. However, we did find significant differences in response times to correct rejections of novel stimuli and greater false alarm confidence in the depressive symptom group. In Experiment 2, we used electroencephalography to further investigate the mechanisms through which each group may complete this task. Using only lists associated with negative and neutral critical lures, the depressive symptom group showed greater hit and false alarm rates, and quicker overall response times than controls. The EEG results suggested that the behavioral differences might arise from separate memory retrieval strategies, with the depressive group utilizing an earlier, familiarity-based retrieval strategy and the control group utilizing a later, recollection-based retrieval strategy. These experiments are an important first step in understanding mechanisms underlying the relationship between depressive symptoms and emotional stimuli on memory distortion.