A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society examined five personality traits -neuroticism, extraversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and openness - and their links to the pre-dementia conditions of motoric cognitive risk (MCR) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
Among 524 adults aged 65 years and older who were followed for a median of three years, 38 developed MCR and 69 developed MCI (some with amnestic MCI).
Openness was associated with a 6 per cent reduced risk of developing MCR (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] = 0.94; 95% CI 0.89-0.99), whereas neuroticism was associated with a 6 per cent increased risk of non-amnestic MCI (aHR = 1.06; 95% CI 1.01-1.11). These associations remained significant even after considering the confounding effects of lifestyle or mood.
None of the personality traits were associated with MCI overall or with amnestic MCI.
“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,” said lead author Emmeline Ayers, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. “From a clinical perspective, these findings emphasise the importance of accounting for aspects of personality when assessing for dementia risk.”