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Subjective Report of Word-finding and Memory Deficits in Normal Aging and Dementia

Calley, Clifford S. BS*; Tillman, Gail D. Ph.D*; Womack, Kyle MD*; Moore, Patricia BA*; Hart, John Jr MD*; Kraut, Michael A. MD, PhD

Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology: September 2010 - Volume 23 - Issue 3 - p 185-191
doi: 10.1097/WNN.0b013e3181c5e2d4
Original Studies

Objective Compare subjective reports of both memory and word-finding deficits to clinical diagnosis and objective neuropsychological testing.

Background With the increasing number of aging individuals with cognitive impairments, effective screening measures would improve the likelihood of detection. Subjective reports of symptoms are typically obtained in clinical settings, yet the validity of these reports is relatively unknown.

Methods Clinical screening for dementia was carried out at an Alzheimer disease center. Dichotomous ratings for memory and word-finding/language problems were given by patients and neurologists. These ratings were compared with 13 neuropsychological measures of word-finding/language and episodic memory.

Results Ratings of memory by both patients and neurologists correlated well with standard neuropsychological measures of memory. However, both the patients' and physicians' ratings of word-finding/language impairments had notably less of a correlation with the relevant neuropsychological measures of word-finding/language.

Conclusion Compared with ratings of memory, similar assessments of word-finding/language difficulties were relatively inaccurate, and thus poor predictors of impairment. It is imperative to develop effective screening methods that will help reveal cognitive impairments, as this issue will almost certainly become more pressing given the projected increase in the number of aging individuals and those with dementia.

*Berman Laboratory of Learning and Memory, Center for BrainHealth, The University of Texas at Dallas

Department of Radiology, Division of Neuroradiology, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD

This study was supported by and conducted through the ADC at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (C. Beck, PI, NIA NIH, AG-00-002).

Reprints: Clifford S. Calley, BS, University of Texas Dallas; Center for BrainHealth, 2200 W. Mockingbird Ln, Dallas, TX 75235 (e-mail: cliff@utdallas.edu).

Received for publication May 26, 2009; accepted October 11, 2009

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.