ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (2): 252-267.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2021.00252

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Processing of emotional information in working memory in major depressive disorder

HUANG Zhijing, LI Xu   

  1. School of Psychology, Central China Normal University, Wuhan 430079, China
  • Received:2020-01-13 Online:2021-02-15 Published:2020-12-29

Abstract: Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is associated with mood-congruent processing biases towards negative information in working memory (WM), which is considered as the core manifest of cognitive vulnerability of MDD. This review provides an overview of the biased processing of emotional information of depression in three executive components of WM. Patients with MDD have difficulties in disengaging from negative information and present insufficient processing of positive materials during WM updating. MDD patients also exhibit impairments in suppressing irrelevant negative information and cannot effectively prevent the irrelevant negative information entering WM during inhibition. The findings of emotion-specific dysfunctions of shifting function in depression are inconsistent. Electrophysiological and neuroimaging studies suggest that the biased processing in WM is associated with altered brain activations in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex. Future research is needed to investigate the different contribution of each type of biased processing to depressive symptoms, the unity of the biased processing in three WM components, the impact of biased processing in different stages of MDD, and the induction effects of different emotional materials on biased processing. Moreover, unraveling the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying the process of emotional materials in WM could help resolve the inconsistency of previous findings and benefit future development of cognitive bias modification interventions for biased processing in WM of depression.

Key words: working memory, the central executive system, emotional stimuli, depression

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