How Personality Can Protect How Your Brain Ages

 

Your personality can protect or age your brain


Personality traits may be a key factor in whether people develop mild cognitive impairment later in life.


Studies show that being more conscientious and extroverted keeps mild cognitive impairment at bay longer, while having higher levels of neuroticism increases the chances of cognitive decline. Personality traits reflect relatively enduring patterns of thinking and behaving, which may cumulatively affect engagement in healthy and unhealthy behaviors and thought patterns across the lifespan.

The accumulation of lifelong experiences may then contribute to susceptibility of particular diseases or disorders, such as mild cognitive impairment, or contribute to individual differences in the ability to withstand age-related neurological changes.

Specific traits may increase risk due to a lifetime of behaviors that predispose a person to developing cognitive decline or Alzheimer's disease, or there could be more of a direct biological role related to early disease pathology.

Neuroticism is one trait that comes to mind, and past meta-analyses have also shown this. Rumination and worry is linked to smaller brain volumes. It's undetermined if the stress/neuroinflammation pathway drives this.

Neuroticism is a personality trait that affects how well a person deals with stress. Neurotic people approach life in a state of anxiety, anger and self-consciousness and often see minor frustrations as overwhelming or threatening.


Conscientious people tend to have high levels of self-discipline and are organized and goal-directed, while extroverts are enthusiastic about life and often assertive and outgoing.

Being more extroverted and socially engaged appeared to offer an additional year of dementia-free living. It also boosted a person's ability to recover normal cognitive function after receiving a previous diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment, due to the benefits of socialization.

 

LaMotte, Sandee. “Your Personality Can Protect or Age Your Brain, Study Finds.” CNN, Cable News Network, 11 Apr. 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/04/11/health/personality-cognitive-decline-wellness/index.html. 

 

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