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This study investigated subjective memory complaints in older adults and the roles of setting, response bias, and personality.
Cognitively normal older adults from two settings completed questionnaires measuring memory complaints, response bias, and personality.
(A) Neuroimaging study with community-based recruitment and (B) academic memory clinic.
Cognitively normal older adults who (A) volunteer for research (N = 92) or (B) self-referred to a memory clinic (N = 20).
Neuropsychological evaluation and adjudication of normal cognitive status were done by the neuroimaging study or memory clinic. This study administered self-reports of subjective memory complaints, response bias, five-factor personality, and depressive symptoms. Primary group differences were examined with secondary sensitivity analyses to control for sex, age, and education differences.
There was no significant difference in over-reporting response bias between study settings. Under-reporting response bias was higher in volunteers. Cognitive complaints were associated with response bias for two cognitive complaint measures. Neuroticism was positively associated with over-reporting in evaluation-seekers and negatively associated with under-reporting in volunteers. The relationship was reversed for Extraversion. Under-reporting bias was positively correlated with Agreeableness and Conscientiousness in volunteers.
Evaluation-seekers do not show bias toward over-reporting symptoms compared to volunteers. Under-reporting response bias may be important to consider when screening for memory impairment in non-help-seeking settings. The Memory Functioning Questionnaire was less sensitive to reporting biases. Over-reporting may be a facet of higher Neuroticism. Findings help elucidate psychological influences on self-perceived cognitive decline and help seeking in aging and may inform different strategies for assessment by setting.
Cognitive impairments are directly related to severity of symptoms and are a primary cause for functional impairment. Intraindividual cognitive variability likely plays a role in both risk and resiliency from symptoms. In fact, such cognitive variability may be an earlier marker of cognitive decline and emergent psychiatric symptoms than traditional psychiatric or behavioral symptoms. Here, our objectives were to survey the literature linking intraindividual cognitive variability, trauma, and dementia and to suggest a potential research agenda.
A wide body of literature suggests that exposure to major stressors is associated with poorer cognitive performance, with intraindividual cognitive variability in particular linked to the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the aftermath of severe trauma.
In this narrative review, we survey the empirical studies to date that evaluate the connection between intraindividual cognitive variability, PTSD, and pathological aging including dementia.
The literature suggests that reaction time (RT) variability within an individual may predict future cognitive impairment, including premature cognitive aging, and is significantly associated with PTSD symptoms.
Based on our findings, we argue that intraindividual RT variability may serve as a common pathological indicator for trauma-related dementia risk and should be investigated in future studies.
To estimate the prevalence of unmet needs for assistance among middle-aged and older adults with subjective cognitive decline (SCD) in the US and to evaluate whether unmet needs were associated with health-related quality of life (HRQOL).
US – 50 states, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico
Community-dwelling adults aged 45 years and older who completed the Cognitive Decline module on the 2015-–2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System reported experiencing SCD and always, usually, or sometimes needed assistance with day-to-day activities because of SCD (n = 6,568).
We defined SCD as confusion or memory loss that was happening more often or getting worse over the past 12 months. Respondents with SCD were considered to have an unmet need for assistance if they sometimes, rarely, or never got the help they needed with day-to-day activities. We measured three domains of HRQOL: (1) mental (frequent mental distress, ≥14 days of poor mental health in the past 30 days), (2) physical (frequent physical distress, ≥14 days of poor physical health in the past 30 days), and (3) social (SCD always, usually, or sometimes interfered with the ability to work, volunteer, or engage in social activities outside the home). We used log-binomial regression models to estimate prevalence ratios (PRs). All estimates were weighted.
In total, 40.2% of people who needed SCD-related assistance reported an unmet need. Among respondents without depression, an unmet need was associated with a higher prevalence of frequent mental distress (PR = 1.55, 95% CI: 1.12–2.13, p = 0.007). Frequent physical distress and social limitations did not differ between people with met and unmet needs.
Middle-aged and older adults with SCD-related needs for assistance frequently did not have those needs met, which could negatively impact their mental health. Interventions to identify and meet the unmet needs among people with SCD may improve HRQOL.
Because of inconsistent findings regarding the relationship between sleep quality and cognitive function in people with age-related memory complaints, we examined how self-reports of sleep quality were related to multiple domains of both objective and subjective cognitive function in middle-aged and older adults.
A cross-sectional study involving analysis of baseline data, collected as part of a clinical trial.
Two hundred and three participants (mean age = 60.4 [6.5] years, 69.0% female) with mild memory complaints were asked to rate their sleep quality using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and their memory performance using the Memory Functioning Questionnaire (MFQ), which measures self-awareness of memory ability. Neurocognitive performance was evaluated using the Continuous Performance Test (CPT), Trail Making Test, Buschke Selective Reminding Test, and the Brief Visuospatial Test – Revised (BVMT-R).
Total PSQI scores were significantly associated with objective measures of sustained attention (CPT hit reaction time by block and standard error by block) and subjective memory loss (MFQ frequency and seriousness of forgetting). The PSQI components of (poorer) sleep quality and (greater) sleep disturbance were related to (worse) sustained attention scores while increased sleep latency and daytime sleepiness were associated with greater frequency and seriousness of forgetting.
Sleep quality is related to both objective measures of sustained attention and self-awareness of memory decline. These findings suggest that interventions for improving sleep quality may contribute not only to improving the ability to focus on a particular task but also in reducing memory complaints in middle-aged and older adults.
Research shows that mental demands at work affect later-life cognitive functioning and dementia risk, but systematic assessment of protective mental work demands (PMWDs) is still missing. The goal of this research was to develop a questionnaire to assess PMWDs.
The instrument was developed in accordance with internationally recognized scientific standards comprising conceptualization, pretesting, and validation via confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), principal component analysis (PCA), and multiple regression analyses.
We included 346 participants, 72.3% female, with an average age of 56.3 years.
Item pool, sociodemographic questions, and cognitive tests: Trail-Making Test A/B, Word List Recall, Verbal Fluency Test, Benton Visual Retention Test, Reading Minds in the Eyes Test.
CFAs of eight existing PMWD-concepts revealed weaker fit indices than PCA of the item pool that resulted in five concepts. We computed multivariate regression analyses with all 13 PMWD-concepts as predictors of cognitive functioning. After removing PMWD-concepts that predicted less than two cognitive test scores and excluding others due to overlapping items, the final questionnaire contained four PMWD-concepts: Mental Workload (three items, Cronbach’s α = .58), Verbal Demands (four, Cronbach’s α = .74), Information Load (six, Cronbach’s α = .83), and Extended Job Control (six, Cronbach’s α = .83).
The PMWD-Questionnaire intends to assess protective mental demands at the workplace. Information processing demands and job control make up the primary components emphasizing their relevance regarding cognitive health in old age. Long-term follow-up studies will need to validate construct validity with respect to dementia risk.
Evidence linking subjective concerns about cognition with poorer objective cognitive performance is limited by reliance on unidimensional measures of self-perceptions of aging (SPA). We used the awareness of age-related change (AARC) construct to assess self-perception of both positive and negative age-related changes (AARC gains and losses). We tested whether AARC has greater utility in linking self-perceptions to objective cognition compared to well-established measures of self-perceptions of cognition and aging. We examined the associations of AARC with objective cognition, several psychological variables, and engagement in cognitive training.
Cross-sectional observational study.
The sample comprised 6056 cognitively healthy participants (mean [SD] age = 66.0 [7.0] years); divided into subgroups representing middle, early old, and advanced old age.
We used an online cognitive battery and measures of global AARC, AARC specific to the cognitive domain, subjective cognitive change, attitudes toward own aging (ATOA), subjective age (SA), depression, anxiety, self-rated health (SRH).
Scores on the AARC measures showed stronger associations with objective cognition compared to other measures of self-perceptions of cognition and aging. Higher AARC gains were associated with poorer cognition in middle and early old age. Higher AARC losses and poorer cognition were associated across all subgroups. Higher AARC losses were associated with greater depression and anxiety, more negative SPA, poorer SRH, but not with engagement in cognitive training.
Assessing both positive and negative self-perceptions of cognition and aging is important when linking self-perceptions to cognitive functioning. Objective cognition is one of the many variables – alongside psychological variables – related to perceived cognitive losses.