A controversial study has linked the onset of dementia to specific personality traits.
Dementia is an umbrella term for conditions that cause a decline in brain function, with Alzheimer’s being the most common.
Many forms of dementia are associated with abnormal formation of proteins in the brain, causing nerve cells to die and shrinking of various areas of the vital organ.
Exactly why this happens is often unclear, however, it is associated with stroke, as well as a family history of the disease.
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Scientists at Northwestern University in Illinois have recently found people who are moody, anxious or impulsive, “more likely to have cognitive functions”.
People who are self-disciplined, organized, and motivated have improved “cognitive flexibility”, allowing them to live with the brain changes associated with dementia without its symptoms, he suggested.
Older brains naturally gather tangents and plaques that can interfere with thinking and memory.
This is different from Alzheimer’s, which comes when a protein called amyloid forms plaques around brain cells, as well as protein that creates tangles within tau cells.
Alzheimers aside, different elderly people differ in their ability to maintain their “cognitive reserve” while keeping these plaques and tangents.
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To uncover how personality traits influence this, Northwestern scientists analyzed 1,375 deceased people who participated in religious order studies and the Rush Memory and Aging Project.
Years of data were available on the personality and cognitive function of the participants, as well as their neuropathology at autopsy – a study of the disease in nervous system tissues.
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Results – published in Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences – Suggest participants who had greater propensity for self-discipline, organization, diligence, achievement, and motivation experienced higher levels of “cognitive flexibility”.
It is defined as the ability to live with neuropathology that causes dementia without severe symptoms.
Participants with “high dementia” – a tendency toward anxiety, anxiety, mood, and impulsivity – had worse cognitive function than cognitive function, suggesting reduced cognitive flexibility, given the neuropathology reported on autopsy.
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“These findings provide evidence that it is possible for older adults to live with neuropathology associated with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia while maintaining relatively healthy levels of cognitive function,” lead author Dr. Eileen Graham said.
“Our study shows that personality traits are related to how people are able to maintain their cognitive function despite developing neuropathology.
“Since it is possible for personality to change voluntarily and through interventions, it is possible that personality is used to identify those who are at risk and help optimize function in old age To implement early interventions. ”
Dementia in the UK affects 850,000 people, which is expected to increase to 1.6 million by 2040.
In the US, 5.7 million people live with the disease.
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