In a new study from the Florida State University, researchers found that changes in the brain linked to Alzheimer’s disease are often visible early on in individuals with personality traits associated with the condition.
They confirmed that neuroticism is linked to higher dementia risk. It measures a predisposition for negative emotions.
In the study, the team focused on two traits previously linked to the risk of dementia: Neuroticism and conscientiousness, which measures the tendency to be careful, organized, goal-directed and responsible.
The team combined data from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA) and previously published work in a meta-analysis that summarized 12 studies on personality and Alzheimer’s neuropathology. The studies combined included more than 3,000 participants.
In both the BLSA and meta-analysis, the researchers found more amyloid and tau deposits (the proteins responsible for the plaques and tangles that characterize Alzheimer’s disease) in participants who scored higher in neuroticism and lower in conscientiousness.
The team also found associations to be stronger in studies of cognitively normal people compared to studies that included people with cognitive problems.
The findings suggest that personality can help protect against Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases by delaying or preventing the emergence of neuropathology for those strong in conscientiousness and low in neuroticism.
Such protection against neuropathology may derive from a lifetime difference in people’s emotions and behaviors.
Low neuroticism helps with managing stress and reduces the risk of common mental health disorders. Similarly, high conscientiousness is consistently related to healthy lifestyles, like physical activity.
Over time, more adaptive personality traits can better support metabolic and immunological functions and ultimately prevent or delay the neurodegeneration process.
If you care about dementia, please read studies about statin and blood pressure drug combos may help reduce dementia risk and findings of this common brain disease could lead to dementia.
For more information about dementia and your health, please see recent studies about these personality traits may protect you from dementia and results showing that hearing loss linked to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia.
The study is published in Biological Psychiatry. One author of the study is Antonio Terracciano.
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