Editorial: Subjective perceptions of memory functioning in old age - Nature, correlates, and developmental trajectories

Gizem Hülür, Denis Gerstorf

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Subjective memory complaints are often used as diagnostic criteria for several neurocognitive disorders. Although a number of studies have examined subjective memory and its associations with memory functioning in adulthood and old age, it is still an open question whether subjective perceptions of one's memory indicate actual memory functioning or whether they are rather derived from factors other than memory, such as depressive symptoms. The studies in this special section examine subjective perceptions of memory functioning and their associations with objectively measured memory performance in general and in clinical populations. The four articles adopt cross-sectional and longitudinal methodologies and offer key insights into the nature, correlates, and developmental trajectories of subjective memory. To begin with, the studies compiled in this special section demonstrate that changes in subjective memory perceptions are indeed associated with changes in memory performance [Zimprich and Kurtz, this issue, pp. 223-231], but the size of associations between levels of and changes in subjective memory and memory performance is in part modulated by personality characteristics and depressive symptoms [Hülür et al., this issue, pp. 232-240]. Second, the studies compiled here show that factors other than memory are also closely associated with memory perceptions, including functional health as well as domain-general and health-specific control beliefs [Luszcz et al., this issue, pp. 241-250]. Third, the study by Thompson et al. [this issue, pp. 251-257] shows that self- and informant-reports of retrospective and prospective memory difficulties are not associated with performance-based measures and does not sufficiently differentiate between healthy controls and patients diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment or dementia. In our editorial, we put these findings in perspective and discuss implications for research and practice. To extend our knowledge, we conclude by outlining two key avenues for future research: (i) longitudinal multivariate studies of the construct space surrounding subjective memory and (ii) the viability of experience sampling studies with daily or hourly measurements to tackle some of the mechanisms underlying these associations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)218-222
Number of pages5
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 6 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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