Cognitive, Motor, Emotional, and Functional Markers of Subjective Cognitive Decline


The presence of subjective cognitive decline (SCD) among cognitively normal-for-age older adults is increasingly hypothesized to represent a preclinical stage in the development of Alzheimer’s dementia (Jessen et al., 2014). This project aimed to characterize this construct with regard to its cognitive, motor, emotional, and functional features. The first study sought to identify subtle but significant markers of SCD within a large, longitudinal database from the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center. Analyses revealed that baseline SCD was significantly associated with weaknesses in the cognitive domains of executive attention, language, and episodic memory, worse ratings of daily function at baseline, and increased progression to diagnoses of mild cognitive impairment and dementia over the period of follow-up. The second study sought to identify these same areas of cognitive weakness as well as motor and emotional variables that have not previously been identified in SCD through the use of novel, computer-based instruments from the NIH Toolbox. Analyses revealed that the presence of SCD was associated with a unique profile of emotional health characterized by reduced self-efficacy and psychological well-being. The research had several limitations but helped to characterize the construct of SCD and raised some important directions for future research.

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