ISSN 2051-8315
Psychopathology Review
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 Volume 4, Issue 3, 341-376, 2017
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Does rumination cause “inhibitory” deficits?

  Henrietta Roberts - Mood Disorders Centre, Psychology, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, UK
  Edward Watkins - Mood Disorders Centre, Psychology, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, UK
  Andy Wills - Cognition Institute, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth, UK.

Volume 4, Issue 3, 2017, Pages 341-376

Inhibitory processes have been implicated in depressive rumination. Inhibitory deficits may cause difficulties in disengaging from ruminative content (e.g., Joormann, 2005), or rumination may constitute a working memory load, causing deficits in inhibitory control (e.g., Hertel, 2004). These hypotheses have different implications for the treatment of depression. We conducted a systematic review of existing evidence, and conclude that most studies do not unambiguously measure inhibition. The majority of published evidence is correlational, and thus supports neither causal direction. No published experimental studies have investigated the inhibitory deficit → rumination causal direction, and only six have investigated the rumination → inhibitory deficit hypothesis. In two of these studies the dependent variable has low construct validity. One study reported no effect of rumination on interference, and three did not control for mood effects. There is need for carefully designed experimental research that has the potential to investigate these proposed causal mechanisms.

Table of Contents
Conceptualizing and Measuring Rumination
Conceptualizing and Measuring Inhibition and Interference
Theoretical accounts relating rumination and interference
 Interference-control deficits as a cause of rumination (I→R)
 Interference-control deficits as a consequence of rumination (R→I)
 Interference-control deficits as both cause and consequence of rumination
 Interference-control deficits and rumination as consequences of depression
Literature Search
Evidence of an association between rumination and interference control processes
Impaired Interference Control as a Cause of Rumination: The Evidence
Rumination as a Cause of Impaired Interference Control: The Evidence
 Random Number Generation
 Operation word memory span test (OSPAN; Turner & Engle, 1989)
 Directed forgetting
 Controlled retrieval (process dissociation procedure)
 Stroop interference
 Task switching and backward inhibition
 Convergent evidence from working memory load
Confounding variables
 Mood state
Future challenges
 Testing the I→R hypothesis
 More is not always better
 The role of valence of task stimuli
Clinical Implications

Correspondence to
Henrietta Roberts

Rumination; depression; interference; working memory; inhibition

Received 23 Jun 2014; Revised 15 Jan 2015; Accepted 15 Jan 2015; In Press 5 Feb 2016

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