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Effects of specific recall training

Effects of specific recall training on the improvement of mood and autobiographical memory in Afghanian war affected bereaved children and adolescents

Hamid Taher Neshat Doost (PhD), Department of Psychology, University of Isfahan, Iran.

E-mail: h.neshat[at]

Autobiographical memory is defined as an individual record of the lifetime experiences that together create the individual’s self (Baddeley, 1990). Autobiographical memory has a central role in the psychological functioning, sense of self, orientation in the world, personal and social goals, and well being (Williams, Branhofer, Caran, Hermans, Raes, Watkins and Dalgleish, 2007).

Research showed that depressed and traumatised individuals (adults, adolescents and children) have difficulty in producing specific memories (Vrielynck,  Deplus, & Philippot, 2007 and Dalgleish, Rolfe, Golden, Dunn, & Barnard, 2008). It seems that there is a similarity between cognitive changes (specific explanation to global explanation) and changes in autobiographical memory (specific recall to general recall) of depressed individuals. Therefore, as reversing dysfunctional thoughts through CBT improve depression (Beck, 1976) it seems that specific recall training will lead to the similar effects.

The study is consisted of two stages: in the first stage, the extent of over-general autobiographical memory in Afghanian depressed children and adolescents with parental death will be studied. For this purpose, three groups of Afghanian children and adolescents (depressed with parental death, non-depressed with parental death, and normal controls without parental death, ns = 30) will be compared on the number of specific recall and general recall.

In the second stage, the effect of the specific recall training on the autobiographical memory and depression will be studied. For this purpose, sixty Afghanian bereaved children and adolescents who have a depression score higher than the cut-off score, will be randomly assigned to the experimental (n= 30) and control (n = 30) groups. The experimental group will participate in the specific recall training consisted of five sessions (each 75 minutes) in which the autobiographical memory and three types of recall (general, extended and specific) will be taught through several examples and practices.

Instruments consisted of AMT (Williams et al., 2007), MFQ (Angold et al, 1987), RCMAS (Reynolds & Richmond, 1978), IEV (2008, Children and War Foundation) and Demographic Questionnaire. All of the instrument will be administered at pre-test, post-test and follow-up. The age, duration of leaving Afghanistan and duration of bereavement will be considered in statistical analysis.