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Reasoning processes in depression

Baker, Jane Elizabeth; (1999) Reasoning processes in depression. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Clinical accounts of depression suggest that it is associated with cognitive deficits in concentration, memory and 'thinking'. From a cognitive therapy perspective, it has been postulated that depression may be maintained by 'thinking errors' characterised by negative and biased interpretations of events. Research carried out to investigate cognitive function m depression has used both emotional and neutral stimuli, and has predominantly focused on memory and learning. With regard to neutral stimuli, a range of memory and learning tasks has been used, and depression has often, but not always, been associated with deficits. Current models suggest that the pattern of findings is consistent with a reduction in the cognitive capacity available to perform the tasks. In the light of these models it can be predicted that reasoning ability may also be affected. In comparison to the large volume of research on memory for neutral materials, only a small body of work exists on reasoning processes in depression. It is difficult to draw any conclusions as to the likely nature and extent of any deficits on the basis of the existing work. Assessing reasoning in depression using neutral tasks is of interest from a clinical perspective since it can be established whether the 'thinking errors' which have been observed in clinical situations in relation to the personal concerns of the patient reflect more widespread difficulties with logical thought. This thesis describes a series of experimental studies investigating reasoning in depression. The subjects in each study were dysphoric and nondysphoric undergraduate students. The initial studies compared dysphoric and nondysphoric subjects on tasks that have been widely used in the cognitive and neuropsychological literature. The subsequent studies were devised to explore further the nature and extent of reasoning deficits in the dysphoric subjects. Overall the pattern of deficits shown by the dysphoric subjects appeared to be consistent, and related to the difficulty of the task. The results are considered in the light of current models of cognitive function in depression and the implications of the findings are discussed.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Reasoning processes in depression
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Psychology; Cognitive function
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10107441
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