Affective Working Memory Capacity in Refugee Adolescents

Vida Mirabolfathi, Susanne Schweizer, AliReza Moradi, Laura Jobson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: High numbers of adolescents today are exposed to conflict-related trauma, with trauma-exposure being associated with adverse biopsychosocial outcomes. Here we investigated the influence of traumaexposure and high levels of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms on cognitive functioning in trauma-related compared to neutral contexts. Method: Afghan adolescent refugees with high levels of PTSD symptomatology and non-trauma-exposed Afghan adolescent refugee controls (N = 47; 43% female; aged 13-19 years, M = 15.49, SD = 1.40) completed a visual working memory task including affective (trauma-related) and neutral distractors. Results: Working memory capacity in the context of trauma-related distractors (and not neutral distractors) was significantly poorer in trauma-exposed refugees with high levels of PTSD when compared to non-trauma-exposed controls. Conclusions: The findings highlight the importance of investigating posttraumatic cognitive functioning within affective contexts and suggest that affective working memory capacity may constitute a promising target for intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)983–988
Number of pages6
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • Adolescents
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Refugee
  • Visual working memory capacity

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