Does processing of emotional stimuli predict symptomatic improvement and diagnostic recovery from major depression?

Sheri L. Johnson, Jutta Joormann, Ian H. Gotlib

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Scopus citations


This study was designed to examine whether processing of emotional stimuli predicts both symptomatic improvement and recovery from depression. Participants diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) (N = 63) completed information-processing tasks to assess attention to and memory for sad, physically threatening, socially threatening, and happy stimuli. At a follow-up session an average of nine months later, participants were reassessed to determine diagnostic status and depression severity. None of the measure of attention or memory predicted diagnostic status at follow-up. Those depressed participants who remembered a higher proportion of positive words that they had endorsed as self-descriptive exhibited greater symptomatic improvement. After controlling for memory of positive self-referential words, attentional measures did not predict symptomatic change. These results are consistent with a growing literature highlighting the importance of emotionally relevant memory processes for understanding the course of major depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-206
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2007



  • Attention
  • Depression
  • Emotional stimuli
  • Information processing
  • Memory
  • Recovery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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