episodic memory, memory impairment, dementia, sex matched healthy controls


Previously we demonstrated sex differences in episodic memory in healthy elderly and suggested that normative data be separated by sex. The present study extended the exploration of sex differences on memory measures into two clinical populations, Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer's disease (AD). Seventy-six subjects with MCI and 101 subjects with AD diagnosed by a multidisciplinary team were included. These two groups were also compared to a group of 177 healthy elderly control participants. Sex differences on the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test (RAVLT) (total and delayed recall) raw scores and Brief Visuospatial Memory TestRevised (BVMT-R) were demonstrated within the healthy but not MCI or AD groups. Calculating Z-scores by sex for both dementing groups based on the healthy controls suggested a larger performance gap between healthy and dementing women as compared to healthy and dementing men. MCI females were on average 0.48 standard deviations lower for total verbal learning compared to healthy female controls than were MCI males when compared to healthy male controls. For verbal delayed recall the gap was even larger, 1.09 standard deviations. Similarly, on the BVMT-R, a measure of visual memory, the difference was 0.60 standard deviations for total visual learning and 0.99 standard deviations for delayed recall. This same sex difference, with females showing greater impairment compared to the controls group than did the males, was also present within the AD group. The greater memory impairment in dementing females rather than males when compared to sex matched healthy controls was unlikely to be due to more severe illness since females performed equivalently to males on the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale, Mini-mental Status Examination, Dementia Rating Scale, and were also similar for age, education, and apolipoprotein status. The present study suggested relatively greater memory impairment in females with MCI or AD compared to controls.

Original Publication Citation

Gale, Shawn D., Leslie Baxter, and Juliann Thompson. "Greater Memory Impairment in Dementing Females than Males Relative to Sex-Matched Healthy Controls." Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, vol. 38, no. 5, 2016, pp. 527-533,

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Department of Health and Human Services




Family, Home, and Social Sciences



University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor

Included in

Psychology Commons