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Characteristics of Healthy Older Adults that Influence Self-rated Cognitive Function

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 July 2017

Bryce P. Mulligan*
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Colette M. Smart
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Sidney J. Segalowitz
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada Jack & Nora Walker Centre for Lifespan Development Research, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
Stuart W.S. MacDonald
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
*
Correspondence and reprint requests to: Bryce P. Mulligan, Department of Psychology, University of Victoria, PO Box 1700 STN CSC, Victoria, BC V8W 2Y2, Canada. E-mail: bpm@uvic.ca

Abstract

Objectives: We sought to clarify the nature of self-reported cognitive function among healthy older adults by considering the short-term, within-person association (coupling) of subjective cognitive function with objective cognitive performance. We expected this within-person coupling to differ between persons as a function of self-perceived global cognitive decline and depression, anxiety, or neuroticism. Methods: This was an intensive measurement (short-term longitudinal) study of 29 older adult volunteers between the ages of 65 and 80 years without an existing diagnosis of dementia or mild cognitive impairment. Baseline assessment included neuropsychological testing and self-reported depression, anxiety, and neuroticism, as well as self- and informant-reported cognitive decline (relative to 10 years previously). Intensive within-person measurement occasions included subjective ratings of cognitive function paired with performance on a computerized working memory (n-back) task; each participant attended four or five assessments separated by intervals of at least one day. Statistical analysis was comprised of multilevel linear regression. Results: Comparison of models suggested that both neuroticism and self-rated cognitive decline explained unique variance in the within-person, across-occasion coupling of subjective cognitive function with objective working memory performance. Conclusions: Self-ratings of cognition may accurately reflect day-to-day variations in objective cognitive performance among older adults, especially for individuals lower in neuroticism and higher in self-reported cognitive decline. Clinicians should consider these individual differences when determining the validity of complaints about perceived cognitive declines in the context of otherwise healthy aging. (JINS, 2018, 24, 57–66)

Type
Special Section: Lifespan Neuropsychology
Copyright
Copyright © The International Neuropsychological Society 2017 

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