Subjective memory complaints in community dwelling healthy older people: The influence of brain and psychopathology

M. Bartley, A. L. Bokde, M. Ewers, Y. O. Faluyi, W. O. Tobin, A. Snow, J. Connolly, C. Delaney, T. Coughlan, D. R. Collins, H. Hampel, D. O'Neill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Objectives Subjective memory complaints (SMC) are common. We aimed to characterize the relationship between psychiatric illness and white matter disease to SMC in a sample of healthy older people. Measurements Cognitively normal subjects between 55 and 90 years had age-adjusted and education-adjusted Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's disease (CERAD) scores ≤1.5 SD from standard mean. ApoE genotyping was performed using polymerase chain reaction. Sixty subjects (30 SMC, 30 controls) underwent 3T MRI, which was rated by two raters blinded to the diagnosis, for periventricular (PVH) and deep white matter hyperintensities (DWMH) using the Fazekas scale. Subjective memory was assessed by asking the participant, Do you feel like your memory or thinking is becoming worse? Results Two hundred and fifteen volunteers were assessed. Ninety-six were cognitively normal (mean age 62.5 years). SMC were reported by 52/96 subjects (54%). These were compared with subjects who denied SMC. Participants with a history of depression or anxiety were more likely to have SMC (p=0.02). The frequency distribution of ApoE4 allele and CERAD scores were similar. White matter load was similar (p≤0.47), with a high prevalence of PVH and DWMH seen (100% and 88% of scans, respectively). Conclusion Both SMC and white matter disease were common. SMC were associated with a history of depression or anxiety but not with white matter disease. Evaluation for a history of depression and anxiety in people with SMC is supported by these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)836-843
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • older
  • subjective memory complaints
  • white matter hyperintensities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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