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Everyday memory: Self-perception and structural brain correlates in a healthy elderly population

  • ASTRID BJØRNEBEKK (a1), LARS T. WESTLYE (a1), KRISTINE B. WALHOVD (a1) (a2) and ANDERS M. FJELL (a1) (a2)
Abstract

Mapping the cerebral structural correlates of age-related cognitive decline is a growing area of research. The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between healthy elderly’s perceived memory functioning in daily life, neuropsychological test performance on a standardized test on verbal memory, and cortical thickness and subcortical volumes in brain regions implicated in memory networks, including the medial temporal lobe (MTL). Eighty-three healthy and cognitively well-functioning volunteers aged 60–85 years underwent MRI scans, Everyday Memory Questionnaire (EMQ), and neuropsychological assessment. Both self-perceived memory in daily life related to attention and executive functions and an objective measure of verbal recall (CVLT) were, independently, associated with thickness of the left MTL. The two cognitive variables were uncorrelated, and including both measures in the model nearly doubled the amount of explained variance on MTL thickness. This suggests that measures of perceived everyday memory might substantially inform and supplement studies investigating the relationships between neuropsychological test performance and brain morphology. The results are consistent with a bigger-is-better relationship in the MTL and suggest that EMQ and neuropsychological test performance have detectable and comparable structural correlates in a region critically involved in memory functions in the well-functioning elderly. (JINS, 2010, 16, 1115–1126.)

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Corresponding author
*Correspondence and reprint requests to: Astrid Bjørnebekk, Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, PoB 1094 Blindern, 0317 Oslo, Norway. E-mail: astrid.bjornebekk@psykologi.uio.no
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