Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How depression blurs memories

Date:
October 3, 2013
Source:
Brigham Young University
Summary:
The more depressed someone feels, the harder it is for them to distinguish similar experiences they've had -- such as where they parked their car today.

To pinpoint why depression messes with memory, researchers took a page from Sesame Street's book.

Related Articles


The show's popular game "One of these things is not like the others" helps young viewers learn to differentiate things that are similar -- a process known as "pattern separation."

A new Brigham Young University study concludes that this same skill fades in adults in proportion to the severity of their symptoms of depression. The more depressed someone feels, the harder it is for them to distinguish similar experiences they've had.

If you've ever forgotten where you parked the car, you know the feeling (though it doesn't mean you have depression).

"That's really the novel aspect of this study -- that we are looking at a very specific aspect of memory," said Brock Kirwan, a psychology and neuroscience professor at BYU.

Depression has been generally linked to poor memory for a long time. To find out why, Kirwan and his former grad student D.J. Shelton put people through a computer-aided memory test. The participants viewed a series of objects on the screen. For each one, they responded whether they had seen the object before on the test (old), seen something like it (similar), or not seen anything like it (new).

With old and new items, participants with depression did just fine. They often got it wrong, however, when looking at objects that were similar to something they had seen previously. The most common incorrect answer was that they had seen the object before.

"They don't have amnesia," Kirwan said. "They are just missing the details."

This can be a challenge in a number of everyday situations, such as trying to remember which friends and family members you've told about something personal -- and which ones are still in the dark.

The findings also give an important clue about what is happening in the brain that might explain this.

"There are two areas in your brain where you grow new brain cells," Kirwan said. "One is the hippocampus, which is involved in memory. It turns out that this growth is decreased in cases of depression."

Because of this study, we know a little more about what these new brain cells are for: helping us see and remember new experiences. The study appears in the journal Behavioral Brain Research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Brigham Young University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Don J. Shelton, C. Brock Kirwan. A possible negative influence of depression on the ability to overcome memory interference. Behavioural Brain Research, 2013; 256: 20 DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2013.08.016

Cite This Page:

Brigham Young University. "How depression blurs memories." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131003132237.htm>.
Brigham Young University. (2013, October 3). How depression blurs memories. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131003132237.htm
Brigham Young University. "How depression blurs memories." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131003132237.htm (accessed November 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, November 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Newsy (Nov. 20, 2014) Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found the more complex your job is, the sharper your cognitive skills will likely be as you age. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
100-Year-Old Woman Sees Ocean for First Time

100-Year-Old Woman Sees Ocean for First Time

AP (Nov. 20, 2014) Ruby Holt spent most of her 100 years on a farm in rural Tennessee, picking cotton and raising four children. She saw the ocean for the first time thanks to her assisted living center and a group that grants wishes to the elderly. (Nov. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins