Components of interference control predict depressive symptoms and rumination cross-sectionally and at six months follow-up

Ulrike Zetsche, Jutta Joormann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Recent research has shown that depression is characterized by difficulties inhibiting irrelevant emotional material and that these difficulties are linked to rumination. The present study examined the relation among tasks that assess different aspects of interference control, depressive symptoms, and rumination, cross-sectionally and in a 6-months follow-up. 111 participants completed an emotional flanker task to assess individual differences in resolving interference from simultaneously presented irrelevant stimuli. In addition, participants completed two negative affective priming tasks using word and face stimuli to assess difficulty controlling interference from internal representations of previously rejected material. Six months after the initial session, depressive symptoms and rumination were re-assessed. Depressive symptoms at time 1 were related to individual differences in negative priming for verbal as well as pictorial material, but not to individual differences in interference resolution from simultaneously presented external stimuli in the flanker task. Individual differences in negative priming at time 1 further predicted depressive symptoms and rumination at time 2. These results suggest that depressive symptoms are related to impaired interference control for verbal and pictorial information and provide first evidence that individual differences in interference control predict the maintenance of depressive symptoms and rumination over a period of six months.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-73
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2011


  • Cognition
  • Depression
  • Emotion
  • Facial expression
  • Inhibition
  • Rumination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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