Subjective memory complaints & personality traits in normal elderly subjects

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the relationship between objectively

measured memory functions and subjective complaints of memory

disturbance and whether subjective complaints are affected by

some personality traits or affective states.


Cross-sectional two-group comparison.

SETTING: The city of

Kuopio in Eastern Finland, considered representative of the

urban elderly population of Finland.


403 subjects aged 67-78 years from the random sample and then

two matched study groups initially including eighteen subjects

but only ten in the final analysis.


and follow-up examinations of subjects with and without

subjective memory complaints: (1) Memory functions: Benton’s

visual retention test and the paired-associated learning

subtest of Wechsler Memory Scale. (2) Memory complaints:

Memory Complaint Questionnaire. (3) Personality traits and

affective state: Two subscales from Minnesota Multiphasic

Personality Inventory and Geriatric Depression Scale.


Complaints of memory loss did not correlate with the actual

memory performance in the tests. However, those subjects who

most emphatically complained of memory disturbance had greater

tendencies toward somatic complaining, higher feelings of

anxiety about their physical health, and more negative

feelings of their own competence and capabilities than those

who did not complain of memory deterioration associated with


CONCLUSIONS: The study suggests that subjective feelings

of memory impairment are more closely associated with

personality traits than with actual memory performance in

normal elderly people.

Hanninen T, Reinikainen KJ, Helkala EL, Koivisto K, Mykkanen L,

Laakso M, Pyorala K, Riekkinen PJ

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