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


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.

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Divisions: College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Psychology
College of Health & Life Sciences > Clinical and Systems Neuroscience
College of Health & Life Sciences
College of Health & Life Sciences > Chronic and Communicable Conditions
College of Health & Life Sciences > Applied Health Research Group
Additional Information: © 2017 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in anyway. Funding: Abbeyfield Research Foundation: [Grant Number 4].
Uncontrolled Keywords: aging,autobiographical memory,life review,MEST,mood,Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology,Experimental and Cognitive Psychology,Geriatrics and Gerontology,Psychiatry and Mental health
Publication ISSN: 1744-4128
Full Text Link:
Related URLs: http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2018
Published Online Date: 2017-08-21
Accepted Date: 2017-08-02
Authors: Leahy, Fiona
Ridout, Nathan (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-7111-2996)
Mushtaq, Faizah
Holland, Carol (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-1846-8897)

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