Facilitated cognitive disengagement in depression

J. Van Den Elzen, Colin Macleod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The present study was conducted to test predictions derived from the hypothesis that depression may serve the purpose of adaptively facilitating disengagement from obsolete cognitive plans. Groups of students with either low or high depression scores were contrasted using a procedure that featured an initial learning phase, within which participants learned to perform a task, followed by a relearning phase within which they needed to disengage from initial learning in order to relearn to perform an altered task. It was assumed that performance in the relearning phase would be affected by the degree to which participants could readily disengage from their initial learning. As predicted, participants in the high depression group, relative to those in the low depression group, demonstrated superior performance in the relearning phase alone. The theoretical and applied implications of this finding are discussed
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-313
JournalBehavior Therapy
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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