OBJECTIVE - Subjective cognitive complaints are often used in the diagnosis of memory and other cognitive impairment. This study examined whether cognitive complaints are associated with longitudinal changes in cognition and cross-sectional differences in regional brain function during memory performance in 98 participants with a mean age of 75.
METHOD - The Cognitive Failures Questionnaire (CFQ) assessed cognitive complaints and mixed effects regression models were used to determine whether mean CFQ scores predicted rates of change in cognitive function over a period of 11.5 years.
RESULTS - Higher CFQ scores, reflecting increased subjective complaints, were associated with steeper rates of decline in immediate and delayed recall on the California Verbal Learning Test. Voxel-based regression analysis was used to determine the cross-sectional relationship between CFQ scores and regional cerebral blood flow measured by PET during a resting condition and during verbal and figural memory tasks. Higher levels of cognitive complaints were associated with increased activity in insular, lingual and cerebellar areas during memory tasks.
CONCLUSIONS - These findings offer some support for the validity of subjective cognitive complaints as markers of age related changes in memory and brain activity.
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