Awareness of memory deficit in Alzheimer's disease patients and memory-impaired older adults




Correa, Denise Dias

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Disturbances in awareness of memory deficit have been observed in Alzheimer's disease (AD), yet few studies have systematically investigated the phenomena in this population. The present study has applied the concepts and instruments used in the metamemory literature to the study of awareness of memory deficit in twenty mild AD patients, eighteen individuals with memory impairment, and eighteen normal elderly controls. Specifically, a multidimensional approach to metamemory was selected including an evaluation of perception of memory change, knowledge about memory functioning, and self-monitoring of memory performance. Consistent with previous research, AD patients reported less change in memory functioning than did their informants, suggesting that these patients have diminished awareness of the extent of the decline in their memory abilities. No differences among the three groups were observed in self-report measures addressing the use of strategies, perception of control over memory functioning, and presence of anxiety in memory-related activities. Diminished self-monitoring abilities were observed in the AD patients' tendency to make a high number of intrusion errors with few self-corrections, and to overestimate their performance on memory tests. The results also suggest that relatives' evaluation of memory functioning may be particularly useful in differentiating AD patients from older adults displaying memory impairment and from normal elderly.



Alzheimer's disease, Memory disorders in old age, Patients