Increases in neuroticism may help to predict the onset of Alzheimer’s, new research finds.
People who transition from mild cognitive impairment to full-blown Alzheimer’s are more likely to show personality changes.
Many people with mild cognitive impairment do not go on to develop dementia.
Both increased neuroticism and lower openness to experience predict the progression of the most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease.
The conclusions come from a study that followed people for more than 7 years.
They were tested for personality, anxiety, depression and other symptoms.
The researchers found that personality changes typically came after memory had begun to worsen.
Increases in depression, anxiety and anger were strongly linked to the transition to dementia.
However, the personality changes came before typical behaviour changes — such as like mood swings — were obvious.
The study’s authors write that Alzheimer’s disease is…
“…characterized by greater neuroticism and less openness; and coincide with subtle, clinically insignificant behavioral changes that qualitatively mirror and anticipate the clinically severe behavioral problems that often complicate dementia care.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (Caselli et al., 2018).