Author(s): Beckw M, Deroost N, Koster EHW, De Lissnyder E, De Raedt R
Persistent negative thought is a hallmark feature of both major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Despite its clinical significance, little is known about the underlying mechanisms of persistent negative thought. Recent studies suggest that reduced cognitive control might be an explanatory factor. We investigated the association between persistent negative thought and switching between internal representations in working memory, using the internal shift task (IST). The IST was administered to a group of undergraduates, classified as high-ruminators versus low-ruminators, or high-worriers versus low-worriers. Results showed that high-ruminators and high-worriers have more difficulties to switch between internal representations in working memory as opposed to low-ruminators and low-worriers. Importantly, results were only significant when the negative stimuli used in the IST reflected personally relevant worry themes for the participants. The results of this study indicate that rumination and worrying are both associated with reduced cognitive control for verbal information that is personally relevant.