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Reduced autobiographical memory specificity and posttraumatic stress: Exploring the contributions of impaired executive control and affect regulation
DALGLEISH, T., Rolfe, J., GOLDEN, A.J., DUNN, B. D., & BARNARD, P. J.
Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 117(1), 236-241
Year of publication:
Reduced specificity of autobiographical memories retrieved to word cues on the Autobiographical Memory Test (AMT) is associated with increased posttraumatic stress in traumatized samples. Theoretical debates concerning the dominant influences on this effect have focused on affect regulation, whereby specific personal information is avoided more by those experiencing greater distress, versus compromised executive control, where increased distress is associated with an inability to set aside inappropriately general responses on the AMT. The present study compared these two views in a correlational design using a reversed version of the AMT Â the AMT-R Â for which trauma-exposed participants (N = 36) had to generate general memories from the past and avoid specific memories. An emphasis on the role of affect regulation would predict that distress would be associated with reduced specificity (as in the standard AMT) whereas emphasis on the role of executive control would predict that this relationship would be reversed. The data supported the affect regulation account with greater posttraumatic stress being associated with reduced memory specificity.