Emotional biases in attention, interpretation, and memory are viewed as important cognitive processes underlying symptoms of depression. To date, there is a limited understanding of the interplay among these processing biases. This study tested the dependence of memory on depression-related biases in attention and interpretation. Subclinically depressed and nondepressed participants completed a computerized version of the scrambled sentences test (measuring interpretation bias) while their eye movements were recorded (measuring attention bias). This task was followed by an incidental free recall test of previously constructed interpretations (measuring memory bias). Path analysis revealed a good fit for the model in which selective orienting of attention was associated with interpretation bias, which in turn was associated with a congruent bias in memory. Also, a good fit was observed for a path model in which biases in the maintenance of attention and interpretation were associated with memory bias. Both path models attained a superior fit compared with path models without the theorized functional relations among processing biases. These findings enhance understanding of how mechanisms of attention and interpretation regulate what is remembered. As such, they offer support for the combined cognitive biases hypothesis or the notion that emotionally biased cognitive processes are not isolated mechanisms but instead influence each other. Implications for theoretical models and emotion regulation across the spectrum of depressive symptoms are discussed.
- Combined cognitive biases