In a recent study published in Biological Psychiatry, 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. On the other hand, conscientiousness is linked to lower dementia risk.
The study is from the Florida State University. One author is Antonio Terracciano.
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 Alzheimer’s disease, please read studies about the blood test that can predict dementia, Alzheimer’s 5 years early, and findings that one year of this exercise training may reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about 2 personality traits that may protect you from Alzheimer’s disease and more, and results showing that some diabetes drugs may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
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