Remembering a visit to the psychology lab: Implications of Mild Cognitive Impairment

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Abstract

Morris Moscovitch has emphasized the importance of sensitively and carefully measuring cognition in the real world. With this lesson in mind, we examined the real-world episodic memory problems of older adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). MCI patients often complain of episodic memory problems and perform poorly on standardized neuropsychological measures, but we still do not know enough about their actual difficulties remembering real experiences. A few days after their visit to the laboratory for an experimental session, we telephoned 19 MCI patients and 34 healthy participants without warning to ask what they could recollect about 16 elements of their visit. The patients had difficulty remembering the details of their visit, and reported lower ratings of memory vividness compared to healthy participants. Patients' memory for the visit was commensurate with their performance on three standard clinical memory assessment measures (delayed 5 word recall from the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, long delay free recall from the California Verbal Learning Test-II and recall of the details of the Wechsler Memory Scale-III Logical Memory stories), providing evidence for the generalizability of the clinical measures. Putting these findings together with those from Moscovitch and colleagues (Murphy et al., 2008) can help us better understand the real-world memory implications of Mild Cognitive Impairment.

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