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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Cortex, Volume 43, Issue 7, 2007, Pages 1004–1019
For reasons that remain unknown, there is marked inter-person variability in awareness of episodic memory loss in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Existing research designs, primarily subjective in nature, have been at a relative disadvantage for evaluating disordered metamemory and its relation to the clinical and neuropathological heterogeneity of AD, as well as its prognosis for various disease outcomes. The current study sought to establish an objective means of evaluating metamemory in AD by modifying traditional metacognitive paradigms in which participants are asked to make predictions regarding their own memory performance. Variables derived from this measure were analyzed in relation to clinically rated awareness for memory loss. As predicted, a range of awareness levels existed across patients with mild to moderate AD (n = 24) and clinical ratings of awareness (CRA) were significantly associated with verbal episodic memory monitoring (r = .46, p = .03). Further, patients who were rated as aware of their memory loss remained well calibrated over the course of the task whereas those rated as relatively unaware grew over-confident in their predictions [F (1, 33) = 4.19, p = .02]. Findings suggest that over-confidence may be related to impaired online error recognition and compromised use of metamemory strategies such as the Memory for Past Test (MPT) heuristic. Importantly, clinically rated awareness did not vary as a function of demographic variables, global cognition, or verbal memory. However, participants characterized as relatively unaware were impaired on a nonverbal memory task as compared to aware participants [F (1, 20) = 6.98, p = .02]. The current study provides preliminary support for the use of a recognition-based verbal episodic memory monitoring task as a quantitative measure of awareness for memory loss in AD, and offers insight into the manner in which metamemory breaks down. Discrepancies in nonverbal memory across the two awareness groups provide preliminary support for the idea that metamemory variability in AD may be related to the neuroanatomic presentation of the disease, with disordered awareness potentially reflective of a critical level of right hemisphere involvement.