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J Affect Disord. 2019 Jun 22;256:550-559. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2019.06.026. [Epub ahead of print]

Rumination and executive functions: Understanding cognitive vulnerability for psychopathology.

Author information

1
Institute for Behavioral Genetics, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, United States; Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, United States. Electronic address: alta.dupont@colorado.edu.
2
Institute for Behavioral Genetics, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, United States; Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, United States.
3
Institute for Behavioral Genetics, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, United States.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Both rumination, a pattern of repetitive, self-focused thought in response to distress, and deficits in executive functions (EFs), a set of cognitive abilities that facilitate higher-order thinking, have transdiagnostic associations with psychopathology. Although empirical studies suggest associations between EFs and rumination, this literature has not examined subtypes of rumination and different components of EFs. It also has not examined whether rumination and EFs explain overlapping variance in psychopathology, which is relevant to theoretical models suggesting that rumination might mediate the EF-psychopathology association.

METHODS:

We used structural equation modeling to examine the association between latent factors for two types of rumination (anger and depressive) and three components of EF (a Common EF factor, and factors specific to updating working memory and shifting mental sets) and whether they independently relate to internalizing and externalizing psychopathology in a population sample of 764 young adults (mean age 23 years) from the Colorado Longitudinal Twin Study.

RESULTS:

Depressive and Anger Rumination showed small correlations with a Common EF factor (rs = -.09 to -.11). Anger Rumination and Common EF ability were associated with independent variance in externalizing psychopathology, whereas Depressive Rumination, but not Common EF, was associated with internalizing psychopathology.

LIMITATIONS:

Examination of cross-sectional relations in a population sample led to low symptom endorsement for psychopathology and necessitated examination of lifetime, rather than past-year, psychopathology.

CONCLUSIONS:

Inconsistent with mediation hypotheses, Common EF abilities and rumination are correlated yet largely independent constructs that both predict psychopathology.

KEYWORDS:

Brooding; Cognitive control; Executive control; Inhibition; Reflection; Task switching

PMID:
31280080
DOI:
10.1016/j.jad.2019.06.026

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