Subjective memory complaints, cognitive performance, and psychological factors in healthy older adults

October 8, 2014

Authors: Susanne I Steinberg, Selamawit Negash, Mary D Sammel, Hillary Bogner, Brian T Harel, Melissa G Livney, Hannah McCoubrey, David A Wolk, Mitchel A Kling, Steven E Arnold

Journal: American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias

DOI: 10.1177/1533317513504817

Year Published: 2013


To determine whether subjective memory complaints (SMCs) are associated with performance on objective cognitive measures and psychological factors in healthy, community-dwelling older adults.


The cohort was composed of adults, 65 years and older with no clinical evidence of cognitive impairment (n = 125). Participants were administered: CogState computerized neurocognitive battery, Prospective Retrospective Memory Questionnaire, personality and meaning-in-life measures.


SMCs were associated with poorer performance on measures of executive function (p = 0.001). SMCs were also associated with impaired delayed recall (p = 0.006) but this did not remain significant after statistical adjustment for multiple comparisons. SMCs were inversely associated with conscientiousness (p = 0.004) and directly associated with neuroticism (p < 0.001). Higher scores on SMCs were associated with higher perceived stress (p = 0.001), and ineffective coping styles (p = 0.001). Factors contributing to meaning-in-life were associated with fewer SMCs (p < 0.05).


SMCs may reflect early, subtle cognitive changes and are associated with personality traits and meaning-in-life in healthy, older adults.

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