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The Relation Between Depressive Symptoms and Semantic Memory in Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment and in Late-Life Depression

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 July 2011

Julie Brunet
Département de psychologie, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada Centre de recherche de l'Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal, Montréal, Canada
Carol Hudon*
École de psychologie, Université Laval, Québec, Canada Centre de recherche Université Laval Robert-Giffard, Québec, Canada
Joël Macoir
Centre de recherche Université Laval Robert-Giffard, Québec, Canada Département de réadaptation, Université Laval, Québec, Canada
Sylvie Belleville
Département de psychologie, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada Centre de recherche de l'Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal, Montréal, Canada
François Rousseau
Centre de recherche Université Laval Robert-Giffard, Québec, Canada
Rémi W. Bouchard
Clinique de la mémoire, Hôpital de l'Enfant-Jésus du CHA de Québec, Québec, Canada
Louis Verret
Clinique de la mémoire, Hôpital de l'Enfant-Jésus du CHA de Québec, Québec, Canada
Howard Chertkow
Department of Neurology, McGill University & Lady Davis Institute, Jewish General Hospital, Montréal, Canada
Céline Chayer
Département de Médecine, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada Clinique de Mémoire de l'Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont, Montréal, Canada Clinique de Cognition de l'Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal, Québec, Canada
Marie-Jeanne Kergoat
Centre de recherche de l'Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal, Montréal, Canada Département de Médecine, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada Clinique de Cognition de l'Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal, Québec, Canada
Sven Joubert
Département de psychologie, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada Centre de recherche de l'Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal, Montréal, Canada
Correspondence and reprint requests to: Carol Hudon, Centre de recherche Université Laval Robert-Giffard; 2601, ch. de la Canardière (F-4500); Québec, QC, Canada G1J 2G3. E-mail:


Semantic deficits have been documented in the prodromal phase of Alzheimer's disease, but it is unclear whether these deficits are associated with non-cognitive manifestations. For instance, recent evidence indicates that cognitive deficits in elders with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) are modulated by concomitant depressive symptoms. The purposes of this study were to (i) investigate if semantic memory impairment in aMCI is modulated according to the presence (aMCI-D group) or absence (aMCI group) of depressive symptoms, and (ii) compare semantic memory performance of aMCI and aMCI-D groups to that of patients with late-life depression (LLD). Seventeen aMCI, 16 aMCI-D, 15 LLD, and 26 healthy control participants were administered a semantic questionnaire assessing famous person knowledge. Results showed that performance of aMCI-D patients was impaired compared to the control and LLD groups. However, in the aMCI group performance was comparable to that of all other groups. Overall, these findings suggest that semantic deficits in aMCI are somewhat associated with the presence of concomitant depressive symptoms. However, depression alone cannot account solely for the semantic deficits since LLD patients showed no semantic memory impairment in this study. Future studies should aim at clarifying the association between depression and semantic deficits in older adults meeting aMCI criteria. (JINS, 2011, 17, 865–874)

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Copyright © The International Neuropsychological Society 2011

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