Memory complaints in healthy young and elderly adults: reliability of memory reporting

Tiago Mendes, Sandra Ginó, Filipa Ribeiro, Manuela Guerreiro, Gracinda De Sousa, Karen Ritchie, Alexandre De Mendonça*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Citations (Scopus)


The relationship between memory complaints and objective memory performance remains poorly understood, particularly in young and middle aged people. We studied the relationship between reports of memory complaints and objective memory performance, and the possibility of differentiating good and poor reporters across the lifespan based on concordance between reported abilities and objectively assessed performance. This cross-sectional study enrolled 292 healthy individuals, aged 18 to 87 years, able to perform common activities of daily living and without neurological or psychiatric conditions or systemic diseases likely to interfere with cognition. No correlation between memory complaints, as assessed by the Subjective Memory Complaints scale (SMC) score and the objective memory performance, evaluated by the long-delay free recall (LDFR) score of the California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT), was found, even when grouping the participants by decade. The SMC score was influenced by the presence of depressive symptoms. Participants who were more educated, female and younger tended to have a higher CVLT-LDFR score. Younger subjects were more likely to have good memory performance and report few memory complaints than older subjects. In conclusion, there are differences in the reliability of memory reporting across the lifespan, younger subjects being more likely to correctly report good memory than older subjects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-182
Number of pages6
JournalAging and Mental Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Ageing
  • California Verbal Learning Test
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Depression
  • Lifespan
  • Subjective memory complaints Scale


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