Abstract Title

Clarifying the relationship between depressive symptoms and memory loss in older adults

Abstract

Objective: Numerous studies demonstrate that depressive symptoms are associated with poorer memory test performance in older adults. However, as most measures of depressive symptoms include items specific to subjective changes in cognitive function, it is unclear whether this association is due to symptom overlap or a more generalized effect of depression. We hypothesized that both subjective complaints of cognitive dysfunction and sadness would be associated with poorer performance on a validated memory measure.

Participants and Methods: Neurocognitive testing data from 110 older adults (Mage = 81.1 +/- 6.2, 67% female) participating in a speech and memory study were used for the current analyses. Participants completed the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) and the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test – Revised (HVLT-R) as part of this larger protocol. Pearson correlation analyses were conducted to examine the potential associations between reported depressive symptoms and memory performance.

Results: Consistent with past work, higher total GDS score was significantly associated with poorer HVLT-R learning (r=-0.23, p=0.02) and recall (r=-0.20, p=0.04). When looking at specific items, the GDS item reflecting greater memory complaint was significantly positively associated with better HVLT-R delayed recall (r=0.20, p=0.04) while GDS item reflecting greater sadness was significantly associated with worse HVLT-R learning (r=-0.24, p=.01).

Conclusion: Analyses showed that both cognitive complaints and feelings of sadness were associated with poorer memory test performance in older adults. If replicated, such findings suggest that the relationship between depression and memory in past work is not specific to symptom overlap.

Modified Abstract

Studies demonstrate that depressive symptoms are associated with poorer memory test performance in older adults. We hypothesized that both subjective complaints of cognitive dysfunction and sadness would be associated with poorer performance on a memory measure. Neurocognitive testing data from 110 older adults (Mage = 81.1 +/- 6.2, 67% female) was used for the current study. Participants completed the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) and the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test – Revised (HVLT-R). Pearson correlation analyses examined the potential associations between reported depressive symptoms and memory performance. The current study found that a higher total GDS score was associated with poorer learning and recall. If replicated further, findings may provide researchers with a better consistency of results, helping to incorporate self-reporting to detect memory decline.

Research Category

Psychology

Primary Author's Major

Psychology

Mentor #1 Information

Victoria

Sanborn

Mentor #2 Information

Dr.John

Gunstad

Presentation Format

Poster

Start Date

April 2019

Research Area

Clinical Psychology | Psychology

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Apr 9th, 1:00 PM

Clarifying the relationship between depressive symptoms and memory loss in older adults

Objective: Numerous studies demonstrate that depressive symptoms are associated with poorer memory test performance in older adults. However, as most measures of depressive symptoms include items specific to subjective changes in cognitive function, it is unclear whether this association is due to symptom overlap or a more generalized effect of depression. We hypothesized that both subjective complaints of cognitive dysfunction and sadness would be associated with poorer performance on a validated memory measure.

Participants and Methods: Neurocognitive testing data from 110 older adults (Mage = 81.1 +/- 6.2, 67% female) participating in a speech and memory study were used for the current analyses. Participants completed the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) and the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test – Revised (HVLT-R) as part of this larger protocol. Pearson correlation analyses were conducted to examine the potential associations between reported depressive symptoms and memory performance.

Results: Consistent with past work, higher total GDS score was significantly associated with poorer HVLT-R learning (r=-0.23, p=0.02) and recall (r=-0.20, p=0.04). When looking at specific items, the GDS item reflecting greater memory complaint was significantly positively associated with better HVLT-R delayed recall (r=0.20, p=0.04) while GDS item reflecting greater sadness was significantly associated with worse HVLT-R learning (r=-0.24, p=.01).

Conclusion: Analyses showed that both cognitive complaints and feelings of sadness were associated with poorer memory test performance in older adults. If replicated, such findings suggest that the relationship between depression and memory in past work is not specific to symptom overlap.