Episodic memory for emotional and non-emotional words in individuals with anhedonia

  • Mathews J
  • Barch D
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Anhedonia is a symptom that plays a significant role in theories of illness such as depression and schizophrenia. Some previous research suggests that participants who report high levels of social/physical anhedonia also show deficits in both self-report and physiological measures of emotional processing, particularly for measures of emotional valence as compared with emotional arousal. Little is known about memory for emotionally valenced information or how this might be related to emotional processing in anhedonia. Participants were 391 undergraduate students participating for course credit. We administered an incidental encoding task that required participants to rate emotional words on both valence and arousal dimensions. We then administered surprise recall and recognition tasks to all participants. Results indicated that higher levels of physical and social anhedonia were associated with attenuated valence ratings of emotional words but did not influence arousal ratings or the memory pattern for emotionally valenced information. These findings suggest that there is some reduction in emotional experience in individuals with anhedonia, but that this reduction does not appear to produce a deficit in memory performance, perhaps due to the intact experience of arousal. © 2005 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Anhedonia
  • Emotion
  • Memory

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  • Jennifer R. Mathews

  • Deanna M. Barch

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