To neglect or integrate contingency information from outside the task frame, that is the question! Effects of depressed mood.
Msetfi RM., Byrom N., Murphy RA.
Evidence shows that there are individual differences in the extent to which people attend to and integrate information into their decisions about the predictive contingencies between events and outcomes. In particular, information about the absence of events or outcomes, presented outside the current task frame, is often neglected. This trend is particularly evident in depression, as well as other psychopathologies, though reasons for information neglect remain unclear. We investigated this phenomenon across two experiments (Experiment 1: N=157; Experiment 2: N=150) in which participants, scoring low and high in the Beck Depression Inventory, were asked to learn a simple predictive relationship between a visual cue and an auditory outcome. We manipulated whether or not participants had prior experience of the visual cue outside of the task frame, whether such experience took place in the same or different context to the learning task, and the nature of the action required to signal occurrence of the auditory outcome. We found that all participants were capable of including extra-task experience into their assessment of the predictive cue-outcome relationship in whatever context it occurred. However, for mildly depressed participants, adjacent behaviours and similarity between the extra-task experience and the main task, influenced information integration, with patterns of 'over-integration' evident, rather than neglect as we had expected. Findings are suggestive of over-generalised experience on the part of mildly depressed participants.