Interference resolution in major depression

Jutta Joormann, Derek Evan Nee, Marc G. Berman, John Jonides, Ian H. Gotlib

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


In two experiments, we investigated individual differences in the ability to resolve interference in participants diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD). Participants were administered the "Ignore/Suppress" task, a short-term memory task composed of two steps. In Step 1 ("ignore"), participants were instructed to memorize a set of stimuli while ignoring simultaneously presented irrelevant material. In Step 2 ("suppress"), participants were instructed to forget a subset of the previously memorized material. The ability to resolve interference was indexed by response latencies on two recognition tasks in which participants decided whether a probe was a member of the target set. In Step 1, we compared response latencies to probes from the to-be-ignored list with response latencies to nonrecently presented items. In Step 2, we compared response latencies to probes from the to-be-suppressed list with response latencies to nonrecently presented items. The results indicate that, compared with control participants, depressed participants exhibited increased interference in the "suppress" but not in the "ignore" step of the task, when the stimuli were negative words. No group differences were obtained when we presented letters instead of emotional words. These findings indicate that depression is associated with difficulty in removing irrelevant negative material from short-term memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-33
Number of pages13
JournalCognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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