Validation of the face-name pairs task in major depression: impaired recall but not recognition

The hippocampus is a brain structure which has...
The hippocampus is a brain structure which has been shown to be involved in context-dependent memory (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take-home Message: memory – and especially associative memory – is impaired in a wide variety of neuropsychiatric and neurological conditions. Face-name pair learning is a useful method to tap into deficits in associative memory; usefully, it is a task dramatically impaired by lesions of the extended hippocampal formation. Here, we show that patients with depression showed impaired learning, delayed cued-recall, and delayed free-recall using this task. Importantly, however, we find that depressed patients also showed preserved recognition of the verbal and nonverbal components of this task. This recognition-recall dissociation maps well onto the implicit-explicit memory distinction found in amnesia: that participants can reliably indicate they have encountered certain information in the past, despite not being able to articulate this knowledge. We conclude that the face-name pairs task is sensitive to neurocognitive deficits in major depression. [Download the paper]

Validation of the face-name pairs task in major depression: impaired recall but not recognition

Kimberley J. Smith, Sinead Mullally, Declan McLoughlin and Shane O’Mara

Front. Psychol. 5:92. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00092

Major depression can be associated with neurocognitive deficits which are believed in part to be related to medial temporal lobe pathology. The purpose of this study was to investigate this impairment using a hippocampal-dependent neuropsychological task. The face-name pairs task was used to assess associative memory functioning in 19 patients with major depression. When compared to age-sex-and-education matched controls, patients with depression showed impaired learning, delayed cued-recall, and delayed free-recall. However, they also showed preserved recognition of the verbal and nonverbal components of this task. Results indicate that the face-name pairs task is sensitive to neurocognitive deficits in major depression.

Keywords: depression, recall, recognition, cognition, memory, face-name pairs

Citation: Smith KJ, Mullally S, McLoughlin D and O’Mara S (2014) Validation of the face-name pairs task in major depression: impaired recall but not recognition. Front. Psychol. 5:92. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00092

Extra reference: 

Suppressing the encoding of new information in memory: a behavioral study derived from principles of hippocampal function.

Take-home message: We show here that mixing tasks that involve executive control (the n-back task, requiring continual updating and discarding of information held presently ‘in mind’) inhibits dramatically performance on an explicit memory task (associative memoryface-name pair learning), but not performance on control recognition memory tasks. We therefore provide further behavioural evidence that memory subsystems are dissociable, AND that they can mutually inhibit each other.  [Download the paper]
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Author: Shane O'Mara

Neuroscientist

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