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J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2011 Sep;17(5):865-74. doi: 10.1017/S1355617711000877. Epub 2011 Jul 5.

The relation between depressive symptoms and semantic memory in amnestic mild cognitive impairment and in late-life depression.

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Département de psychologie, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada.


Semantic deficits have been documented in the prodromal phase of Alzheimer's disease, but it is unclear whether these deficits are associated with non-cognitive manifestations. For instance, recent evidence indicates that cognitive deficits in elders with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) are modulated by concomitant depressive symptoms. The purposes of this study were to (i) investigate if semantic memory impairment in aMCI is modulated according to the presence (aMCI-D group) or absence (aMCI group) of depressive symptoms, and (ii) compare semantic memory performance of aMCI and aMCI-D groups to that of patients with late-life depression (LLD). Seventeen aMCI, 16 aMCI-D, 15 LLD, and 26 healthy control participants were administered a semantic questionnaire assessing famous person knowledge. Results showed that performance of aMCI-D patients was impaired compared to the control and LLD groups. However, in the aMCI group performance was comparable to that of all other groups. Overall, these findings suggest that semantic deficits in aMCI are somewhat associated with the presence of concomitant depressive symptoms. However, depression alone cannot account solely for the semantic deficits since LLD patients showed no semantic memory impairment in this study. Future studies should aim at clarifying the association between depression and semantic deficits in older adults meeting aMCI criteria. (JINS, 2011, 17, 865-874).

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