Introduction: The term cognitive reserve describes the capacity of the adult brain to minimise the clinical manifestation of a neurodegenerative process. The acquisition of cognitive reserve has been linked to the performance of certain intellectual and cognitive activities throughout the whole of the individual's life.
Aims: To create a new cognitive reserve questionnaire (CRQ), to establish its relation with the cognitive functions and to obtain the standard values in the cognitively healthy elderly Spanish population.
Subjects and methods: The sample consisted of 55 cognitively healthy controls and 53 patients with Alzheimer's disease. All the subjects were asked to complete the CRQ, which consists of eight items with several different possible answers, together with a brief neuropsychological battery.
Results: Age had no significant influence on the score obtained on the CRQ in either of the groups, yet the number of years of schooling did exert a significant effect. In both groups significant correlations were found between the score on the CRQ and performance in neuropsychological tests that measure executive functioning.
Conclusions: The CRQ is a useful questionnaire for assessing the degree of cognitive reserve in healthy controls and in patients in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. The CRQ is associated with the cognitive performance of executive functioning.