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Dementia & Neuropsychologia

Print version ISSN 1980-5764

Dement. neuropsychol. vol.2 no.1 São Paulo Jan./Mar. 2008

http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1980-57642009DN20100009 

Original Articles

Subjective memory complaints and cognitive performance in a sample of healthy elderly

Queixas de perda de memória e desempenho cognitivo em uma amostra de idosos saudáveis

Paulo Caramelli 1  

Rogério Gomes Beato 1  

1Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology Unit, Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Abstract

Memory loss is a major complaint among the elderly population. However, the clinical significance of this symptom is variable and also controversial in the scientific literature. Objective: To compare the cognitive performance of two groups of healthy elderly, one group with and the other without, subjective memory complaints (SMC). Methods: Sixty cognitively intact elderly individuals (39 females and 21 males), aged 69.9±6.3 years and with educational level of 8.5±5.5 years, were included in the study. Participants were submitted to the Mini-Mental State Examination and to the Cornell depression scale in order to rule out global cognitive impairment and depression, respectively. Moreover, they answered the MAC-Q, a questionnaire devised to evaluate subjective impression of memory function. Subsequently, they were submitted to the digit span forward and backward, the Brief Cognitive Screening Battery, and to the Frontal Assessment Battery. Results: Twenty-seven individuals had MAC-Q scores <25 and thus were classified as not having SMC, while 33 had MAC-Q scores ³25 and were considered to have SMC. No differences for age, gender, education and MMSE scores were found between the two groups. The comparison between the performance of the groups of complainers and non-complainers on the different cognitive tests yielded no significant difference, although there was a trend toward non-complainers performing better on incidental memory. Conclusions: The presence of SMC was not associated to objective memory impairment or to other cognitive deficits in this group of elderly individuals.

Key words: aging; memory; cognition; neuropsychological tests

Resumo

Perda de memória é uma queixa freqüente na população idosa. Entretanto, seu significado clínico é variável e controverso na literatura científica. Objetivo: Comparar o desempenho cognitivo de dois grupos de idosos saudáveis, um com e outro sem queixas subjetivas de memória. Métodos: Sessenta idosos sem comprometimento cognitivo (39 mulheres e 21 homens), com idade de 69,9±6,3 anos e com escolaridade de 8,5±5,5 anos, foram incluídos no estudo. Todos foram submetidos ao Mini-Exame do Estado Mental (MEEM) e à Escala de Depressão de Cornell para exclusão, respectivamente, de comprometimento cognitivo global e de depressão. Também responderam ao MAC-Q, questionário elaborado para avaliar a impressão subjetiva do funcionamento da memória. Posteriormente, eles foram submetidos aos testes extensão de dígitos em ordem direta e inversa, à Bateria Breve de Rastreio Cognitivo e à Bateria de Avaliação Frontal. Resultados: Vinte sete idosos tiveram escores <25 no MAC-Q e foram, portanto, classificados como não tendo queixas, enquanto 33 tiveram >25 pontos no questionário e foram considerados como tendo queixas. Não houve diferenças entre os dois grupos em relação à idade, gênero, escolaridade e pontuações no MEEM. A comparação entre o desempenho dos idosos com e sem queixas nos diferentes testes não revelou diferenças significativas, embora tenha sido observada tendência para que os sem queixas tivessem melhor desempenho de memória incidental. Conclusões: A presença de queixas subjetivas de memória não esteve associada a déficits objetivos de memória ou de outras funções cognitivas neste grupo de idosos saudáveis.

Palavras-chave: envelhecimento; memória; cognição; testes neuropsicológicos

Texto completo disponível apenas em PDF.

Full text available only in PDF format.

Acknowledgements

We thank all the subjects who kindly agreed to participate in the study. This investigation was partly supported by a grant from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) to Paulo Caramelli.

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Received: January 30, 2008; Revised: February 19, 2008; Accepted: February 19, 2008

Paulo Caramelli - Department of Internal Medicine / Faculty of Medicine / Federal University of Minas Gerais - Avenida Prof. Alfredo Balena, 190 / Room 246 - 30130-100 Belo Horizonte MG - Brazil. E-mail: caramelp@usp.br

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