Implicit Memory and Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms

Cognitive Therapy and Research 34 (1) (2010)
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Recent theories of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) suggest that memory dysregulation plays a crucial role in symptom maintenance. How- ever, it is not clear which specific memory systems are involved in PTSD. In this study we used a visual implicit memory paradigm to examine memory bias in individuals with PTSD symptoms. Three hundred nineteen participants provided self-report measures of PTSD, anxiety and depression symptoms. Next they completed a visual clarity-rating task (Amir et al. Cognition and Emotion 17(4):567–583, 2003) to assess implicit memory for three picture types (trauma- relevant, neutral, and negative). Results revealed that participants with PTSD symptoms had greater implicit memory for negative and trauma-relevant pictures compared to neutral pictures. Traumatized individuals without PTSD symptoms showed greater implicit memory for negative pictures relative to trauma and neutral pictures. This pattern of results suggests that implicit memory bias for trauma-relevant and negative visual information may be an important factor in the maintenance of PTSD symptoms



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