Subjective cognitive decline in cognitively normal elders from the community or from a memory clinic: Differential affective and imaging correlates

Alzheimers Dement. 2017 May;13(5):550-560. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2016.08.011. Epub 2016 Sep 28.


Introduction: Subjective cognitive decline (SCD) could indicate preclinical Alzheimer's disease, but the existing literature is confounded by heterogeneous approaches to studying SCD. We assessed the differential cognitive, affective, and neuroimaging correlates of two aspects of SCD: reporting high cognitive difficulties on a self-rated questionnaire versus consulting at a memory clinic.

Methods: We compared 28 patients from a memory clinic with isolated SCD, 35 community-recruited elders with similarly high levels of self-reported cognitive difficulties, and 35 community-recruited controls with low self-reported cognitive difficulties.

Results: Increased anxiety and amyloid β deposition were observed in both groups with high self-reported difficulties, whereas subclinical depression and (hippocampal) atrophy were specifically associated with medical help seeking. Cognitive tests showed no group differences.

Discussion: These results further validate the concept of SCD in both community- and clinic-based groups. Yet, recruitment methods influence associated biomarkers and affective symptomatology, highlighting the heterogeneous nature of SCD depending on study characteristics.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; Amyloid β; Anxiety; Atrophy; Cognitive complaint; Depression; Florbetapir-PET; Hippocampus; MRI; Preclinical; Subjective cognitive decline.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biomarkers
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Independent Living*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mood Disorders / psychology
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Self Report*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Biomarkers