Does Rumination Cause “Inhibitory” Deficits?

We critically review the extant literature on rumination and cognitive control processes; for the first time, this literature is reviewed to examine which of the main competing causal accounts best accommodate the available data

Henrietta Roberts; Edward R. Watkins; Andy J. Wills

2016

Scholarcy highlights

  • We critically review the extant literature on rumination and cognitive control processes; for the first time, this literature is reviewed to examine which of the main competing causal accounts best accommodate the available data
  • We identified three main types of studies: correlational studies relating individual differences in trait rumination to interference, prospective studies that related individual differences in trait rumination to interference longitudinally, and experimental studies that manipulated state rumination and measured subsequent interference control
  • The hypothesis that rumination causes impaired interference control typically assumes mediation of this relationship through rumination occupying working memory capacity, and impairing performance on tasks that are sensitive to working memory load. Consistent with this account, Curci et al report state rumination mediated the association between negative mood and working memory capacity, and many of the tasks used to assess interference resolution in the studies reviewed above are known to be sensitive to the imposition of concurrent working memory load, or to systematically vary according to working memory span
  • Some studies suggest that the correlation between trait rumination and interference control deficits is specific to emotional or negatively valenced material, a substantial number of studies demonstrate that trait rumination is associated with impaired interference control when processing neutral material or irrespective of the emotionality of the material
  • Such limited experimental research as there is tentatively suggests that rumination may cause deficits in interference control; describing them as deficits of inhibitory control goes beyond the data
  • This account would predict that for interventions to have a long-term benefit in reducing rumination, they would need to address deficits in interference control, perhaps through cognitive training programmes designed to increase working memory capacity or enhance inhibitory control

Need more features? Save interactive summary cards to your Scholarcy Library.