The aim of the research of which this study forms part, is to examine the relationship of certain aspects of mental functioning to the psychiatric illnesses of old age.
One of the apparent deficits of function to which psychiatrists commonly attach importance is “memory impairment“. This is considered part of various clinical syndromes, especially of the “organic” disorders of senility. The assessment of memory is, therefore, of considerable practical importance and most psychiatrists working with elderly patients use some kind of “memory tests”. Such tests are usually unstandardized and lack objective scoring criteria.
There are, in relation to memory assessment, some points of conflict between clinical usage and the evidence of objective psychological investigations. For example, the existence of a “memory function” which could be considered as relatively independent of general mental functioning or intelligence, has not been well substantiated when some such clinical tests have been put to critical examination. Eysenck and Halstead (2) after a brief review of the literature and an experimental attack on this problem, conclude that “… the ability involved in the clinical tests of memory studied in this research was identical with that involved in the intelligence test used, and that, therefore, it was misleading to accept scores on these various tests as estimates of a person's ‘memory’ ability.”
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