How does rumination impact cognition? A first mechanistic model.

van der Velde, M. & ESM-MERGE Investigators, 22-Jul-2017, Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Cognitive Modeling. van Vugt, M., Banks, A. P. & Kennedy, W. G. (eds.). Coventry, UK: University of Warwick, Inclusive Technology Ltd, p. 25-30 6 p.

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Rumination is a process of uncontrolled, narrowly-foused neg- ative thinking that is often self-referential, and that is a hall- mark of depression. Despite its importance, little is known about its cognitive mechanisms. Rumination can be thought of as a specific, constrained form of mind-wandering. Here, we introduce a cognitive model of rumination that we devel- oped on the basis of our existing model of mind-wandering. The rumination model implements the hypothesis that rumina- tion is caused by maladaptive habits of thought. These habits of thought are modelled by adjusting the number of memory chunks and their associative structure, which changes the se- quence of memories that are retrieved during mind-wandering, such that during rumination the same set of negative memo- ries is retrieved repeatedly. The implementation of habits of thought was guided by empirical data from an experience sam- pling study in healthy and depressed participants. On the ba- sis of this empirically-derived memory structure, our model naturally predicts the declines in cognitive task performance that are typically observed in depressed patients. This study demonstrates how we can use cognitive models to better un- derstand the cognitive mechanisms underlying rumination and depression.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 15th International Conference on Cognitive Modeling
EditorsMarieke van Vugt, Adrian P Banks, William G Kennedy
Place of PublicationCoventry, UK
PublisherUniversity of Warwick, Inclusive Technology Ltd
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 22-Jul-2017
EventSociety for Mathematical Psychology-ICCM - University of Warwick, Coventry, United Kingdom
Duration: 22-Jul-201725-Jul-2017


ConferenceSociety for Mathematical Psychology-ICCM
CountryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


Society for Mathematical Psychology-ICCM


Coventry, United Kingdom

Event: Conference


  • rumination, cognitive modeling

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