Certain personality traits could affect pre-dementia risk, study finds

Some personality traits may be linked to certain pre-dementia conditions, a study concluded.

Researchers recently published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society a study that looked at five personality traits — neuroticism, extraversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and openness — and their link to certain pre-dementia conditions, namely motoric cognitive risk (MCR), which is characterized by “the presence of cognitive complaints and slow gait in older individuals without dementia or mobility disability," and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) syndromes, or a “slight but noticeable and measurable decline in cognitive abilities, including memory and thinking skills,” as defined by the Alzheimer's Association. 

The study involved 524 adults in Westchester County, New York, who were over the age of 65 and had not been diagnosed with dementia at the beginning of the study. The participants were observed for three years, after which time 38 of them developed MCR, while 69 developed MCI, according to the study.

Openness was associated with a 6 percent reduced risk of developing MCR, the study found.

Openness was associated with a 6 percent reduced risk of developing MCR, the study found. (iStock)

The researchers found that neuroticism was associated with a 6 percent increased risk of developing non-amnestic MCI, or when “memory remains intact, but one or more other cognitive abilities — such as language, visual-spatial skills, or executive functioning —  are impaired,” the researchers explained in a news release regarding the findings. 

Openness, meanwhile, was associated with a 6 percent reduced risk of developing MCR.

The researchers said while their findings did not determine a cause and effect, they do “emphasize the importance of accounting for aspects of personality when assessing for dementia risk” from a clinical perspective, said study co-author Emmeline Ayers of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in a statement.

"While more studies are needed, our results provide evidence that personality traits play an independent role in the risk for or protection against specific pre-dementia syndromes," she added.

The research builds on existing evidence of a link between certain personality traits and cognitive decline, a doctor who was not a part of the study told Newsweek. 

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