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The University of Southampton

Impairments in Mental Model Construction and Benefits of Defocused Attention

Distinctive Facets of Subclinical Depression

Ulrich von Hecker

Cardiff University

Cognitive deficits in subclinical depression become especially evident in tasks that require the integration of piecemeal information into more coherent mental epresentations, such as mental models. It is argued that in states of subclinical depression, attempts at integrative thinking or problem solving are limited by cognitive exhaustion which prevents the use of effective cognitive strategies. Subclinical depression is associated with a distinct deficit in integrative reasoning, but no deficits in non-integrative processing such as initial information sampling or memory retrieval. Also, a not deficit-related facet of depressed cognitive symptoms is proposed, indicating a possible adaptive value of defocused attention in subclinically depressed mood. This view is supported by experimental evidence from a variety of paradigms.

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