Daily linkages among high and low arousal affect and subjective cognitive complaints

Aging Ment Health. 2021 May;25(5):844-855. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2020.1711863. Epub 2020 Jan 14.


Objectives: Subjective cognitive complaints may be an early indicator of Alzheimer's disease pathology and related dementias that can be detectable prior to objective, performance-based decline. Negative and positive affective states (NA and PA, respectively) are established psychosocial correlates of cognition in older adulthood and have demonstrated capacity for meaningful within-person fluctuations based on person-environment interactions, age, and measurement approach.Method: We utilized data from a 100-day, microlongitudinal study of 105 community-dwelling older adults (Mage = 63.19, SD = 7.80, Range = 52-88) to explore within- and between-person associations between high and low arousal NA and PA, and memory- and attention-related complaints.Results: For memory-related complaints, those who reported experiencing greater NA-high arousal had increased forgetfulness (OR = 2.23, 95%CI: 1.11-4.49, p < .05). Within persons, reporting more NA-high arousal than usual was associated with increased forgetfulness (OR = 1.01, 95%CI: 1.004-1.018, p < .01). For attention-related complaints, those who reported experiencing greater NA-low arousal had increased trouble staying focused (OR = 2.34, 95%CI: 1.17-4.66, p < .05). Within persons, reporting more NA-low arousal (OR = 1.02, 95%CI: 1.01-1.03, p < .001) and less PA-high arousal (OR = 0.96, 95%CI: 0.95-0.97, p < .001) than usual was associated with increased trouble staying focused. Additionally, reporting more PA-low arousal than usual was associated with decreased trouble staying focused among those with higher levels of conscientiousness (OR = 0.72, 95%CI: 0.57-0.92, p < .01).Conclusion: Results from this study offer a means to maximize resource allocation and personalized cognitive health efforts by pinpointing for whom and on which days boosting PA and/or reducing NA may both serve as pathways to benefit daily subjective cognition.

Keywords: Affect; cognitive health; intraindividual variability; personality; subjective cognition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease*
  • Arousal*
  • Cognition
  • Humans
  • Memory
  • Memory Disorders