Health providers frequently probe patients’ recall of current and/or remote news events to determine the extent of memory loss. Impaired memory for transient events (ie, in the news for a circumscribed time) may provide information regarding the onset of cognitive impairment.
To use the Transient News Events Test (TNET) to explore how memory changes over time in both older adults with cognitive impairment (CI) and noncognitively impaired (NCI) older adults. We also investigated the role of episodic and semantic memory on TNET performance.
Sixty-seven older adults completed the TNET as part of a comprehensive neuropsychological assessment. Analyses included t tests to evaluate group differences for TNET score and correlations between TNET and neuropsychological measures, including episodic and semantic memory tests.
NCI adults demonstrated better memory for TNET items than adults with CI. The NCI and CI groups did not differ regarding memory for remote events; however, the CI group exhibited worse memory for recent events. There was a significant association between TNET score and the capacity for episodic and semantic memory in the CI group. In the NCI group, TNET score was significantly associated with episodic memory.
Findings support the use of transient news events to assess remote memories in older adults. Novel remote memory measures broaden the scope of memory assessment far beyond what is feasible with traditional neuropsychological assessment and may provide insight into the onset of memory changes.