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J Affect Disord. 1995 Jun 8;34(3):227-34.

Affective valence of words, explicit and implicit memory in clinical depression.

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  • 1INSERM U405, Département de Psychiatrie, Hôpitaux Universitaires, Strasbourg, France.


Explicit and implicit memory for affectively valenced words (positive, negative or neutral) were investigated in 30 patients suffering from a major depressive episode (DSM-III-R criteria) and 30 normal control subjects. Explicit memory was assessed with a free-recall and a recognition task and implicit memory with a word-stem completion task. Depressed and control subjects recalled more emotional, i.e., positive and negative, words than neutral ones. They recognized less negative than neutral words. In contrast, to recall and recognition performance, word-completion performance was not sensitive to the affective valence of words: depressed and control subjects exhibited equivalent priming of positive, negative and neutral words. These results indicate that, in depressed and normal subjects, the affective valence of words influences memory when conscious, intentional recollection is required but is devoid of effect when such a recollection is not required.

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