The integration of emotions in memories: Cognitive-emotional distinctiveness and posttraumatic stress disorder

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats


Citation Stats


The current study examined cognitive-emotional distinctiveness (CED), the extent to which emotions are linked with event information, in memories associated with PTSD. Participants either with PTSD (n=68) or without PTSD (n=40) completed a modified multidimensional scaling technique to measure CED for their most negative and most positive events. The results revealed that participants in the PTSD group evidenced significantly lower levels of CED. This group difference remained significant when we limited the analysis to traumatic events that led to a PTSD diagnosis (n=33) in comparison to control participants who nominated a traumatic event that did not result in PTSD (n=32). Replicating previous findings, CED levels were higher in memories of negative events, in comparison to positive events. These results provide empirical evidence that memories associated with PTSD do contain special organizational features with respect to the links between emotions and memory. Implications for understanding and treating PTSD are discussed. © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.






Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Boals, A, and DC Rubin (2011). The integration of emotions in memories: Cognitive-emotional distinctiveness and posttraumatic stress disorder. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 25(5). pp. 811–816. 10.1002/acp.1752 Retrieved from

This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.



David C. Rubin

Juanita M. Kreps Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience

For .pdfs of all publications click here

My main research interest has been in long-term memory, especially for complex (or "real-world") stimuli. This work includes the study of autobiographical memory and oral traditions, as well as prose. I have also studied memory as it is more commonly done in experimental psychology laboratories using lists. In addition to this purely behavioral research, which I plan to continue, I work on memory in clinical populations with the aid of a National Institute of Mental Health grant to study PTSD and on the underlying neural basis of memory the aid of a National Institute of Aging grant to study autobiographical memory using fMRI.

Unless otherwise indicated, scholarly articles published by Duke faculty members are made available here with a CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial) license, as enabled by the Duke Open Access Policy. If you wish to use the materials in ways not already permitted under CC-BY-NC, please consult the copyright owner. Other materials are made available here through the author’s grant of a non-exclusive license to make their work openly accessible.