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Are depressive symptomatology and self-focused attention associated with subjective memory impairment in older adults?

  • Juhee Chin (a1), Kyung Ja Oh (a2), Sang Won Seo (a1) and Duk L. Na (a1)



Subjective memory impairment (SMI) refers to conditions in which people complain of memory problems despite intact cognition. The primary purpose of the present study was to examine the roles of self-focused attention and depressive symptomatology in subjective memory complaints.


One hundred and eight patients who visited a memory disorder clinic with complaints of memory decline, but who were found on subsequent neuropsychological assessment to have normal cognitive function, were recruited to participate in the study. The severity of subjective memory complaints was measured with the modified Multifactorial Memory Questionnaire. In addition, neuropsychological functions, self-focused attention, and depressive symptomatology were also assessed.


The results showed that the severity of SMI was not significantly correlated with any of the neuropsychological test scores except for the complex figure copy. The severity of SMI, however, was significantly correlated with self-focused attention and depressive symptomatology. Hierarchical regression analysis revealed that self-focused attention and depressive symptomatology significantly contributed to the severity of subjective memory complaints over and above the neuropsychological test performance. The interaction effects between self-focused attention/depressive symptomatology and objective memory performance on the severity of SMI were not significant.


In conclusion, self-focused attention and depressive symptomatology appear to play important roles in the severity of SMI, even though it is not clear how these factors interact with objective memory performance. Clinical implications as well as limitations of the present study were discussed.


Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: Dr Kyung Ja Oh, PhD, Department of Psychology, Yonsei University, 50 Yonsei-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul 120-749, Korea. Phone: +82-2-2123-2441; Fax: +82-2-365-4354. Email:


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