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Age Stereotypes Influence Subjective Cognitive Decline Via Depression

Abstract ID: 30123

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Silvia Chapman, MSc, MPhil1; David Weiss, PhD1; Hana M. Broulíková, MSc2; Jillian L Joyce, BSc1; Preeti Sunderaraman, PhD1; Ian W McKeague, PhD1 and Stephanie Cosentino, PhD1, (1)Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY, USA, (2)National Institute of Mental Health, Klecany, Czech Republic

Background: Subjective Cognitive Decline (SCD) is the subjective perception that one’s cognition has declined, before such decline is evident on standard diagnostic testing. Over the past decade, SCD has received increasing attention as a potential feature of preclinical Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The relation between SCD and objective cognition has though been inconsistent, with SCD being frequently associated with other factors such as depression. Social-cognitive factors, particularly an individual’s stereotypes about aging, may also play an in important role in shaping subjective cognition. This study examines if holding negative stereotypes about aging, either implicitly or explicitly, operates with depression to influence SCD. Method: A total of 100 healthy aging adults were recruited for this study. Participants had a mean age of 71.96 years (SD=7.68), 16.62 years of education (SD=2.21) and were 65 % female. 82 % identified as Caucasian, 11% African-American 3 % Asian and 3 % other. Participants completed SCD questionnaires regarding common cognitive difficulties in memory, language, attention and executive functioning. Depression was measured with the Geriatric Depression Scale. Stereotypes about aging were assessed explicitly (questionnaire on positive and negative stereotypes) and implicitly (reaction-time based implicit association test). Structural equation modelling was used to derive latent variables to represent each SCD, depression, and stereotypes, in order to examine the relation between aging stereotypes and SCD, and to determine whether a potential association was mediated by depression. Result: Implicit aging stereotypes significantly predicted explicit aging stereotypes (β =.31, p=.003), but neither had a direct effect on SCD (p>.05). Depression was a significant predictor of SCD (β=.57, p<.001) and a significant mediator of the relation between implicit and explicit aging stereotypes and SCD (β =.06, p=.04; β=.20, p=.006). Conclusion: Individuals' generalized beliefs about older people, both implicitly and explicitly, can have important effects on how SCD is expressed. However, the effects of aging stereotypes on SCD appear to operate only through depression. Future research should examine the mediational role of depression using longitudinal data. Further, the impact of social-cognitive factors should be examined in relation to SCD's accuracy and how it relates to AD biomarkers.