Short-term memory for emotional faces in dysphoria

Saima Noreen, Nathan Ridout

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study aimed to determine if the memory bias for negative faces previously demonstrated in depression and dysphoria generalises from long- to short-term memory. A total of 29 dysphoric (DP) and22 non-dysphoric (ND) participants were presented with a series of faces and asked to identify the emotion portrayed (happiness, sadness, anger, or neutral affect). Following a delay, four faces were presented (the original plus three distractors) and participants were asked to identify the target face. Half of the trials assessed memory for facial emotion, and the remaining trials examined memory for facial identity. At encoding, no group differences were apparent. At memory testing, relative to ND participants, DP participants exhibited impaired memory for all types of facial emotion and for facial identity when the faces featured happiness, anger, or neutral affect, but not sadness. DP participants exhibited impaired identity memory for happy faces relative to angry, sad, and neutral, whereas ND participants exhibited enhanced facial identity memory when faces were angry. In general, memory for faces was not related to performance at encoding. However, in DP participants only, memory for sad faces was related to sadness recognition at encoding. The results suggest that the negative memory bias for faces in dysphoria does not generalise from long- to short-term memory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)486-497
Number of pages12
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2010

Bibliographical note

This is an electronic version of an article published in Noreen, Saima and Ridout, Nathan (2010) Short-term memory for emotional faces in dysphoria. Memory, 18 (5). pp. 486-497. ISSN 0965-8211. Memory is available online at:


  • dysphoria
  • depression
  • mood-congruent memory
  • emotional facial expressions
  • short-term memory
  • delayed matching to sample


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