These personality traits linked to cognitive decline late in life

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Scientists from the University of Victoria found people who are organized, with high levels of self-discipline, may be less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment as they age, while people who are moody or emotionally unstable are more likely to experience cognitive decline late in life.

The research is published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and was conducted by Tomiko Yoneda et al.

In the study, the team focused on the role three of the so-called “Big Five” personality traits (conscientiousness, neuroticism, and extraversion) play in cognitive functioning later in life.

People who score high in conscientiousness tend to be responsible, organized, hard-working, and goal-directed.

Those who score high on neuroticism have low emotional stability and have a tendency toward mood swings, anxiety, depression, self-doubt, and other negative feelings.

Extraverts draw energy from being around others and directing their energies toward people and the outside world. They tend to be enthusiastic, gregarious, talkative, and assertive.

In the study, researchers analyzed data from 1,954 participants living in the greater Chicago metropolitan region and northeastern Illinois.

Participants received a personality assessment and agreed to annual assessments of their cognitive abilities.

The team found participants who scored either high on conscientiousness or low in neuroticism were much less likely to progress from normal cognition to mild cognitive impairment over the course of the study.

Scoring approximately six more points on a conscientiousness scale ranging 0 to 48 was linked to a 22% decreased risk of transitioning from normal cognitive functioning to mild cognitive impairment.

Additionally, scoring approximately seven more points on a neuroticism scale of 0 to 48 was linked to a 12% increased risk of transition.

Researchers also found that participants who scored high on extraversion—along with those who scored either high on conscientiousness or low on neuroticism—tended to maintain normal cognitive functioning longer than others.

Additionally, individuals lower in neuroticism and higher in extraversion were more likely to recover to normal cognitive function after receiving a previous diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment.

This suggests that these traits may be protective even after an individual starts to progress to dementia.

In the case of extraversion, this finding may be indicative of the benefits of social interaction for improving cognitive outcomes.

There was no association between any of the personality traits and total life expectancy.

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If you care about cognitive health, please read studies about new drug to protect against cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s, and blueberries could improve your cognitive function.

For more information about cognitive health, please see recent studies that vitamin C may help treat cognitive impairment, and results showing common drug for anxiety and sleep problems may harm cognitive functions.

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