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Improving specific autobiographical memory in older adults: impacts on mood, social problem solving, and functional limitations

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2018
<mark>Journal</mark>Neuropsychology, development, and cognition. Section B, Aging, neuropsychology and cognition
Issue number5
Number of pages29
Pages (from-to)695-723
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date21/08/17
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Older adults have difficulty recalling specific autobiographical events. This over-general memory style is a vulnerability factor for depression. Two groups receiving interventions that have previously been successful at reducing over-general memory in depressed populations were compared to a control group. Participants were healthy older adults aged ≥70 years: memory specificity training (MEST; n = 22), life review (n = 22), and control group (n = 22). There were significant improvements in autobiographical memory specificity in the MEST and life review groups at post-training, relative to the control group, suggesting that over-general memory can be reduced in older adults. Change in social problem solving ability and functional limitations were related to change in autobiographical memory specificity, supporting the suggested role of specific retrieval in generating solutions to social problems and maintaining independence. Qualitative analysis of participants' feedback revealed that life review may be more appropriate for older adults, possibly because it involves integrating specific memories into a positive narrative.