The researchers at the University of California, Davis and Northwestern University found that people with personality traits such as conscientiousness, extraversion, and positive affect are less likely to be diagnosed with dementia. The difference was not linked to physical damage to brain tissue found in dementia patients, but more likely to how certain personality traits help people navigate dementia-related impairments. They analyzed data from over 44,000 people and found that high scores on negative traits like neuroticism and low scores on positive traits were associated with a higher risk of a dementia diagnosis. However, they did not find a link between these personality traits and actual neuropathology in the brains of people after death. They also found that conscientiousness’s protective effect increased with age. This study is a first step in teasing out the associations between personality and dementia, and further research will be conducted to expand the work. The researchers hope to look at other everyday factors that might play a role in developing dementia. The work was supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging and was published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

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