Memory bias for emotional facial expressions in major depression

Nathan Ridout, Arlene J. Astell, Ian Reid, Tom Glen, Ronan E. O'Carroll*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

128 Citations (Scopus)


Sixteen clinically depressed patients and sixteen healthy controls were presented with a set of emotional facial expressions and were asked to identify the emotion portrayed by each face. They were subsequently given a recognition memory test for these faces. There was no difference between the groups in terms of their ability to identify emotion from faces. All participants identified emotional expressions more accurately than neutral expressions, with happy expressions being identified most accurately. During the recognition memory phase the depressed patients demonstrated superior memory for sad expressions, and inferior memory for happy expressions, relative to neutral expressions. Conversely, the controls demonstrated superior memory for happy expressions, and inferior memory for sad expressions, relative to neutral expressions. These results are discussed in terms of the cognitive model of depression proposed by Williams, Watts, MacLeod, and Mathews (1997).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-122
Number of pages22
JournalCognition and Emotion
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2003
Externally publishedYes

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