Working Memory and Functional Neuroimaging in Patients with Depression


Numerous studies have demonstrated that patients suffering from depression present impairment in working memory. This paper firstly introduced the concept of working memory, and then elucidated the deficits of working memory of patients with depression. It also reviewed the neuroimaging studies of working memory in patients with depression. In the final part, we further summarized the future research orientations. In short, exploration of working memory on the regulative mechanisms of depression and figuring out that working memory impairment is the cause or the result of depressive symptoms will be the core problem that the future research needs to address.

Share and Cite:

Chen, C. , Chen, J. and Dai, L. (2015) Working Memory and Functional Neuroimaging in Patients with Depression. Psychology, 6, 1438-1442. doi: 10.4236/psych.2015.612140.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Årdal, G., & Hammar, Å. (2011). Is Impairment in Cognitive Inhibition in the Acute Phase of Major Depression Irreversible? Results from a 10-Year Follow-Up Study. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 84, 141-150.
[2] Baddeley, A. (2012). Working Memory: Theories, Models and Controversies. Annual Review of Psychology, 63, 1-29.
[3] Baddeley, A. (1992). Working Memory. Science, 255, 556-559.
[4] Berman, M. G., Nee, D. E., Casement, M., Kim, H. S., Deldin, P., Kross, E. et al. (2011). Neural and Behavioral Effects of Interference Resolution in Depression and Rumination. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 11, 85-96.
[5] Diener, C., Kuehner, C., Brusniak, W., Ubl, B., Wessa, M., & Flor, H. (2012). A Meta-Analysis of Neurofunctional Imaging Studies of Emotion and Cognition in Major Depression. NeuroImage, 61, 677-685.
[6] Eugene, F., Joormann, J., Cooney, R. E., Atlas, L. Y., & Gotlib, I. H. (2010). Neural Correlates of Inhibitory Deficits in Depression. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 181, 30-35.
[7] Foland-Ross, L. C., Hamilton J. P., Joormann, J., Berman, M. G., Ian, J. J., & Gotlib, H. (2013). The Neural Basis of Difficulties Disengaging From Negative Irrelevant Material in Major Depression. Psychological Science, 24, 334-344.
[8] Garrett, A., Kelly, R., Gomez, R., Keller, J., Schatzberg, A. F., & Reiss, A. L. (2011). Aberrant Brain Activation during a Working Memory Task in Psychotic Major Depression. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 168, 173-182.
[9] Gohier, B., Ferracci, L., Surguladze, S. A., Lawrence, E., El Hage, W., Kefi, M. Z. et al. (2009). Cognitive Inhibition and Working Memory in Unipolar Depression. Journal of Affective disorder, 116, 100-105.
[10] Hasselbalch, B. J., Knorr, U., & Kessing, L.V. (2011). Cognitive Impairment in the Remitted State of Unipolar Depressive Disorder: A Systematic Review. Journal of Affective Disorders, 134, 20-31.
[11] Joormann, J., & Gotlib, I. H. (2008). Updating the Content of Working Memory in Depression: Interference from Irrelevant Negative Material. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 117, 182-192.
[12] Joormann, J., & Gotlib, I. H. (2010). Emotion Regulation in Depression: Relation to Cognitive Inhibition. Cognition and Emotion, 24, 281-298.
[13] Kerestes, R., Ladouceur, C. D., Meda, S., Nathan, P. J., Blumberg, H. P., Maloney, K. et al. (2012). Abnormal Prefrontal Activity Subserving Attentional Control of Emotion in Remitted Depressed Patients during a Working Memory Task with Emotional Distracters. Psychological Medicine, 42, 29-40.
[14] Koster, E. H. W., Lissnyder, E. D., Derakshan, N., & De Raedt, R. (2011). Understanding Depressive Rumination from a Cognitive Science Perspective: The Impaired Disengagement Hypothesis. Clinical Psychology Review, 31, 138-145.
[15] Levens, S., & Gotlib, I. (2010). Updating Positive and Negative Stimuli in Working Memory in Depression. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 39, 654-664.
[16] Lisa, M. M., & Ebmeier, K. P. (2009). A Meta-Analysis of Depression Severity and Cognitive Function. Journal of Affective Disorders, 119, 1-8.
[17] Lissnyder, E. D., Koster, E. H. W., & Raedt, R. D. (2012). Emotional Interference in Working Memory Is Related to Rumination. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 36, 348-357.
[18] Marazziti, D., Consoli, G., Picchetti, M., Carlini, M., & Faravelli, L. (2010). Cognitive Impairment in Major Depression. European Journal of Pharmacology, 629, 83-86.
[19] Meiran, N., Diamond, G. M., Toder, D., & Nemets, B. (2011). Cognitive Rigidity in Unipolar Depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Examination of Task Switching, Stroop, Working Memory Updating and Post-Conflict Adaptation. Psychiatry Research, 185, 149-156.
[20] Norbury, R., Godlewska, B., & Cowen, P. J. (2014). When Less Is More: A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study of Verbal Working Memory in Remitted Depressed Patients. Psychological Medicine, 44, 1197-1203.
[21] Pe, M. L., Raes, F., & Kuppens, P. (2013). The Cognitive Building Blocks of Emotion Regulation: Ability to Update Working Memory Moderates the Efficacy of Rumination and Reappraisal on Emotion. PloS ONE, 8, e69071.
[22] Pu, S., Yamada, T., Yokoyama, K., Matsumura, H., Kobayashi, H., Sasaki, N. et al. (2011). A Multi-Channel Near-Infrared Spectroscopy Study of Prefrontal Cortex Activation during Working Memory Task in Major Depressive Disorder. Neuroscience Research, 70, 91-97.
[23] Pu, S., Yamada, T., Yokoyama, K., Matsumura, H., Mitani, H., Adachi, A. et al. (2012). Reduced Prefrontal Cortex Activation during the Working Memory Task Associated with Poor Social Functioning in Late-Onset Depression: Multi-Channel Near-Infrared Spectroscopy Study. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 203, 222-228.
[24] Schecklmanna, M., Dreslerb, T., Beck, S., Jay, J. T., Febres, R., Haeusler, J. et al. (2011). Reduced Prefrontal Oxygenation during Object and Spatial Visual Working Memory in Unipolar and Bipolar Depression. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 194, 378-384.

Copyright © 2022 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.