Maternal history of depression is associated with enhanced theory of mind in depressed and nondepressed adult women Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Theory of mind forms the basis of social cognition and develops on a stereotyped ontogenetic timetable. Yet, there are individual differences in theory of mind that may be transmitted through genetic and/or environmental mechanisms. In the current study we examined the relation of maternal history of depression to individual differences in theory of mind in a sample of adult women. Sixty-one depressed women (23% with a positive maternal history of depression) and 30 non-depressed women (33% with a positive maternal history of depression) completed the 'Reading the Mind in the Eyes task', a test of theory of mind decoding. Women with a maternal history of depression performed better on the Eyes task than those without. Further, the younger the mother's onset of depression, the better the current probands' Eyes task performance. These results are consistent with a broader literature linking hypersensitive social cognition and depression risk. We discuss the potential clinical implications of our results.

authors

  • Harkness, Kate Leslie
  • Washburn, Dustin
  • Theriault, Jordan Eugene
  • Lee, Linda
  • Sabbagh, Mark Alan

publication date

  • August 2011