ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

心理科学进展 ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (2): 252-267.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2021.00252

• 研究前沿 • 上一篇    下一篇


黄挚靖, 李旭()   

  1. 华中师范大学心理学院, 武汉 430079
  • 收稿日期:2020-01-13 出版日期:2021-02-15 发布日期:2020-12-29
  • 通讯作者: 李旭
  • 基金资助:

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
  • Contact: LI Xu


抑郁症患者在工作记忆内情绪刺激加工的特点为倾向于加工与负性心境一致的材料, 被认为是抑郁症认知易感性的核心特征。目前研究者们围绕抑郁症工作记忆中央执行系统三个子功能的情绪刺激加工特点及其作用机制进行了大量研究, 发现在更新功能上, 患者难以移除负性情绪信息, 且在正性信息的加工上存在缺损; 在抑制功能上, 患者难以抑制无关负性情绪信息进入工作记忆; 在转换功能上, 患者情绪材料转换困难的研究证据尚不充分。神经生理与脑成像的研究初步表明, 工作记忆中的情绪刺激加工与抑郁症患者背外侧前额叶和前扣带回的功能激活水平异常有关。未来研究需评估工作记忆三个子功能对抑郁症状的差异性贡献及在情绪刺激加工上的统一性, 并探究其随疾病发生发展变化的轨迹, 谨慎选取并评估不同情绪刺激材料指标的诱发效应及其对工作记忆功能的独特影响。在此基础上, 深入探究工作记忆内情绪刺激加工的神经机制, 为工作记忆偏向矫正干预的临床应用及其预期效果提供理论依据和方向。

关键词: 工作记忆, 中央执行系统, 情绪刺激, 抑郁


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 (i.e., updating, inhibition, and shifting). Patients with MDD are slower in updating negative contents in WM and have difficulties in disengaging from task-irrelevant negative information within WM. Neuroimaging studies show that the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) are hyperactivated in patient with MDD relative to healthy controls. Moreover, patients with MDD perform poorer than healthy controls in updating positive contents in WM and they have smaller occipital P1 in response to positive materials, which indicates an insensitivity to positive items on early encoding stage of WM updating in depression, thus depression is associated with negative enhancement and positive attenuation in updating emotional contents in WM. In regards to inhibition, patients with MDD are found to exhibit impairments in suppressing irrelevant negative information and cannot effectively prevent the irrelevant negative information entering WM during inhibition. These impairments in inhibition have been suggested to be associated with altered brain activations of the dlPFC and ACC. Relative to healthy controls, patients with MDD show decreased activation of the dlPFC and increased activation of the rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC) and posterior cingulate cortex (PCC). Abnormal functional connectivity within the frontoparietal network has also been suggested to underlie deficits in cognitive control of depression. The findings of emotion-specific dysfunctions of shifting function in depression are inconsistent, which might be related to emotional valence of task materials and confounded by other symptoms, such as rumination. The current review of biased processing of emotional information of depression in WM provides a new perspective for understanding cognitive bias of depression, which helps unravel the cognitive and neural mechanisms that underlie the cognitive information processing of emotional contents within WM of depression. Importantly, this review also offers important clues for future research on vulnerability factors implicated in the onset and maintenance of depression and expands our understanding of cognitive models of depression from a cognitive neuroscience perspective. Based upon this literature review, we therefore have identified some open questions and future research directions in this important research area. Firstly, additional research is needed to investigate the unity and diversity of the biased processing in three WM components, and assess their distinctive contribution to depressive symptoms, as well as the mediating effect of other cognitive biases (attention, memory and interpretation biases) and emotion regulation strategies on this association. It is worth noting that the combined cognitive bias hypothesis has been proposed to formulate the interactions among cognitive biases in depression. This hypothesis is arguing that cognitive biases do not operate in isolation, but are interdependent and work together to influence symptoms of depression. Secondly, future research is needed to examine dysfunctions of WM bias across divergent samples (the at-risk sample, the current MDD, the remitted MDD) to uncover the impact of biased processing in different stages of MDD. Thirdly, the induction effects of different emotional materials (affective words, emotional face, or emotional pictorial materials) on biased processing should be explored in future studies. Moreover, unraveling the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying the process of emotional materials in WM could help resolve the inconsistency of previous findings. Finally, by examining the effect of WM training on reducing WM bias and depressive symptoms, future research could provide direct evidence for the causal relationship between cognitive bias and depression 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