Objective: Theory of mind and destination memory are social abilities that require processing the attributes of interlocutors. Empirical research has demonstrated a relationship between performance on both abilities in normal aging and Alzheimer's disease (AD). We therefore investigated whether processing attributes of interlocutors would result in better destination memory in AD.
Methods: Twenty-six mild AD participants and 28 controls were tested on two occasions. On the first one, participants had to tell proverbs to celebrities' faces. Following that, they decided whether they previously told that proverb to that celebrity or not. The same procedures were repeated on the second occasion; however, after telling the proverbs, participants had to introspect about what the celebrities might think about the proverbs (e.g., "what do you think that the celebrities would think about the proverbs?").
Results: Group comparisons showed a beneficial effect of introspection on destination memory in controls (Z =-2.57, p <. 05) but not in AD participants (Z =-1.05, p =. 29). However, analyzes of individual profiles demonstrated that 15 AD participants demonstrated better destination memory after introspection.
Conclusions: Our findings show a beneficial effect of introspection on destination memory in normal aging, and at least in some mild AD cases. Future research should investigate the influence of social cognition on memory in AD and how introspection may provide a potential treatment for AD.