Functional Disorders of Memory

  • Aman U. Khan
Part of the Critical Issues in Psychiatry book series (CIPS)


Depression is often associated with two types of memory disturbances: short-term memory impairment and increased recall of unpleasant memories. The short-term memory impairment is frequently present in severe depression. Walton (1958) reported that the depressed patients achieved lower scores on the Wechsler Memory Test. Friedman (1964) found that psychotically depressed patients showed a deficit of short-term memory and the capacity for sustained concentration. Sternberg and Jarvik (1976) compared a group of 26 depressed patients with 26 controls (matched for age, sex, and level of education) on a battery of memory tests before and after 26 days of treatment with antidepressant drugs. The patients were hospitalized for the first time and the diagnosis of depression was made in each case on the basis of a personal interview, the case record, and the Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale. The controls were evaluated by a psychiatric interview and were found to be free of current mental illness. The memory tests included parts of the Cronholm and Molander Test Battery: the 15 Word-Pair Test, the 15 Figure Test, and the 9 Personal Data Test. The results indicated that immediate recall (short-term memory) in all memory tests was significantly lower in depressed patients than the control group. There was, however, no significant difference in longterm memory. The short-term memory deficit was due to impaired registration, not impaired retention. Twenty of the improved patients after treatment showed a significant recovery of short-term memory. The authors suggested that deficits in attention and the alerting mechanism in depression may be responsible for impaired registration and learning.


Depressed Patient Retrograde Amnesia Childhood Memory Dream Content Chronic Schizophrenic 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aman U. Khan
    • 1
  1. 1.Southern Illinois University School of MedicineSpringfieldUSA

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