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Psicothema was founded in Asturias (northern Spain) in 1989, and is published jointly by the Psychology Faculty of the University of Oviedo and the Psychological Association of the Principality of Asturias (Colegio Oficial de Psicólogos del Principado de Asturias).
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Type of memory and emotional valence in healthy aging, mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer's disease

Juan C. Meléndez1, Joaquín Escudero2, Encarnación Satorres1, and Alfonso Pitarque1

1 University of Valencia and
2 Hospital General of Valencia

Background: Autobiographical memory (AM) presents components related to the type of memory and may present an associated emotional valence. Comparing healthy older adults, adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and adults with Alzheimer´s disease (AD) gives contradictory results. We examined AM in these groups to analyze differences and provide information that would contribute to the understanding of AM and associated emotional deficits in patients. Method: 31 AD, 32 MCI, and 32 healthy older adults were evaluated using the Autobiographical Memory Test. Taking the number of memories elicited in each category as a dependent variable, an ANOVA of three groups × 3 types of valence was applied (positive, negative, neutral, intrasubject), and another ANOVA of 3 groups × 3 types of memory (specific, general, vague, intrasubject). Results: specific-type responses are reduced with the progression of the pathology and in addition healthy subjects have a positive valence while AD presents a mainly neutral valence. Conclusions: Cognitive problems associated with aging tend to affect the highest level of AM specificity. Healthy subjects and MCI have memories with an emotional valence, whereas the AD group has a significant deterioration in these memories.

Tipo de memoria y valencia emocional en adultos mayores sanos, deterioro cognitivo leve y enfermedad de Alzheimer. Antecedentes: la memoria autobiográfica (MA) presenta componentes relacionados con el tipo de recuerdo y una valencia emocional asociada a este. Los resultados al comparar adultos mayores sanos, deterioro cognitivo leve (DCL) y enfermedad de Alzheimer (EA) son contradictorios. Se evaluó la MA de estos grupos para analizar diferencias y ofrecer información que contribuya a la comprensión de la MA y los déficits emocionales asociados a los pacientes. Método: 31 AD, 32 MCI y 32 adultos mayores sanos fueron evaluados con el Test de Memoria Autobiográfica. Tomando como variable dependiente el número de memorias elicitadas en cada categoría se aplicó un ANOVA de tres grupos × 3 tipos de valencia (positiva, negativa, neutra; intrasujeto), y otro ANOVA de 3 grupos × 3 tipos de recuerdo (específico, general, vago; intrasujeto). Resultados: las respuestas específicas se reducen con la progresión de la patología y los sanos presentan mayor recuerdo positivo y los EA principalmente valencias neutras. Conclusiones: los problemas cognitivos asociados con el envejecimiento tienden a afectar el nivel más alto de especificidad de la MA. Los sujetos sanos y DCL presentan recuerdos con valencia emocional, mientras que los EA tiene un deterioro significativo en los recuerdos y su asociación a las emociones.

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