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Arbitrary and semantic associations in subjective memory impairment and amnestic mild cognitive impairment among Taiwanese individuals: A cross-sectional study

Hsin-Te Chang, Ta-Fu Chen, Ting-Wen Cheng, Ya-Mei Lai, Mau-Sun Hua
Journal of the Formosan Medical Association 2018, 117 (5): 427-433

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE: Researchers have recently proposed a preclinical stage of dementia of Alzheimer's type (DAT), referred to as subjective memory impairment (SMI), with the aim of developing methods for the early detection of DAT and subsequent intervention. It has been proposed that the objective memory functions of individuals with SMI are normal; however, arbitrary and semantic associations are both used to describe the processes of memory. No previous studies have investigated these processes among individuals with SMI.

METHODS: Cross-sectional analysis was used to compare the memory function of individuals with SMI, amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), or DAT. One hundred and eighty-three participants were recruited from the Memory Clinic of National Taiwan University Hospital and communities in northern Taiwan, including individuals with no memory complaints (HC, n = 30) and individuals with SMI (n = 61), aMCI-single domain (n = 24), aMCI-multiple domain (n = 33), or DAT (n = 35). The Word Sequence Learning Test (WSLT) was used to assess the formation of arbitrary associations and the Logical Memory subtest of the Wechsler Memory Scale-Third Edition was used to assess the formation of semantic associations.

RESULTS: Compared to the HC group, the SMI group performed poorly only on the WSLT, whereas the other groups performed poorly on both of the memory tasks. This study demonstrated that SMI individuals tend to perform poorly in the formation of arbitrary associations.

CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that tasks requiring arbitrary associations may provide greater sensitivity in the detection cognitive changes associated with preclinical DAT.


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