Executive and Language Subjective Cognitive Decline Complaints Discriminate Preclinical Alzheimer's Disease from Normal Aging

J Alzheimers Dis. 2018;61(2):689-703. doi: 10.3233/JAD-170627.


Background: There is a need to specify the profile of subjective cognitive decline in preclinical Alzheimer's disease (preAD).

Objectives: To explore specific items of the Subjective Cognitive Decline Questionnaire (SCD-Q) that discriminate preAD from normal aging.

Methods: 68 cognitively normal older adults were classified as controls (n = 52) or preAD (n = 16) according to amyloid-β (Aβ) levels. An exploratory factor analysis and item analysis of the SCD-Q were performed. Informant reports of the SCD-Q were used to corroborate the findings of self-reports. One-year neuropsychological follow-up was available.

Results: Four SCD-Q factors were extracted: EM-factor (episodic memory), A-factor (attention), O-factor (organization), and L-factor (language). PreAD reported a significantly higher decline in L-factor (F(1) = 6.49; p = 0.014) and A-factor (F(1) = 4.04; p = 0.049) compared to controls, and showed a higher frequency of perceived decline in SCD-Q items related with language and executive tasks (Sig-items.) Significant discriminative powers for Aβ-positivity were found for L-factor (AUC = 0.75; p = 0.003) and A-factor (AUC = 0.74; p = 0.004). Informants in the preAD group confirmed significantly higher scores in L-factor and Sig-items. A significant time×group interaction was found in the Semantic Fluency and Stroop tests, with the preAD group showing a decrease in performance at one-year.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that SCD-Q items related with language and executive decline may help in prediction algorithms to detect preAD. Validation in an independent population is needed.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid-β; biomarkers; preclinical Alzheimer’s disease; subjective cognitive decline.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis*
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / blood
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / diagnosis*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / psychology*
  • Executive Function*
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Self Report


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides