Abstract

Abstract

Amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is characterized by impaired episodic memory, although subtle executive problems have been noted on neuropsychological tests. Recent research also has described a group of healthy, non-depressed older adults with significant cognitive complaints (CC) but normal performance on neuropsychological testing. These individuals show structural and functional brain changes intermediate between those seen in MCI and healthy older adults without such complaints (HC). We evaluated executive functions in MCI and CC using the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function—Adult version (BRIEF-A), a newly developed self- and informant report questionnaire in 29 patients with amnestic MCI, 28 CCs, and 30 demographically matched HCs. MCI and CC participants reported significant difficulties with selective aspects of executive functioning relative to HCs despite clinically normal performance on neuropsychological tests of this cognitive domain. Scores were generally in the pattern of MCI > CC > HC, and findings were most pronounced for working memory. Additionally, MCI and CC participants were more likely than their informants to report clinically meaningful executive problems, though informants identified a similar pattern of difficulty overall. Results failed to reveal strong relations between the BRIEF-A and standardized neuropsychological tests of executive function. Overall findings indicate that the BRIEF-A is sensitive to subtle executive changes in MCI and CC and suggest the need for research to determine if executive complaints are predictive of clinical course.