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Stress. 2012 Mar;15(2):130-7. doi: 10.3109/10253890.2011.599047. Epub 2011 Jul 31.

Depressive symptoms, cortisol, and cognition during human aging: the role of negative aging perceptions.

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Centre for Studies on Human Stress, Mental Health Research Centre Fernand Seguin, Hospital Louis H Lafontaine, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Depressive symptoms and memory impairments are associated with heightened stress hormone levels during aging. A factor that is related to memory deficits during aging is internalized negative aging stereotypes; the idea people have about the process of aging. In this study, we assessed the associations between internalized negative aging stereotypes, depressive symptoms, subjective and objective memory assessments, and cortisol concentration among older adults. Forty older adults aged between 58 and 85 years (18 females and 22 males; mean age ± SD: 71.25 ± 8.80 years) were assessed in this study. Measures of internalized negative aging stereotypes, depressive symptoms, and both subjective and objective memory performance were assessed. Salivary samples were obtained for measurement of cortisol concentration. Stepwise linear regressions were executed in our main analyses. Internalized negative aging stereotypes were associated with increased depressive symptoms and subjective memory complaints. No significant differences were observed for objective memory performance, or cortisol concentration. Internalized negative aging stereotypes are associated with increased depressive symptomatology and subjective complaints of memory; however, they do not predict increased cortisol concentration nor objective memory performance during aging. These results indicate that the mechanism underlying the association between internalized negative aging stereotypes and cognitive impairments may not be related to dysregulations of cortisol secretion among older adults.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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