Identifying personalities predisposed to dementia

Elderly man using iPhone

Research from Centre for Healthy Ageing suggests certain personality traits are associated with developing dementia.

What was the need for this project?

Dementia affects a person’s memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday tasks. It kills more Australians than any other disease, with the exception of coronary heart disease.

As almost one in ten people over the age of 65 suffer from dementia, uncovering early warning signs is more important than ever.

How the project was completed

Over a period of five years, Dr Sohrabi and his team studied 237 adults aged between 60 and 89 years that presented no cognitive or memory impairment. The study looked for bio-markers – like decreased glucose metabolism – in parts of the brain that are typically associated with memory function and susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease.

The second phase of the study measures changes in other bio-markers of Alzheimer’s disease to understand how they correspond to personality traits and respond to psychological interventions.

Results and achievements for this project

The results showed neuroticism, a personality trait associated with anxiety, depression and nervousness, as well as lower levels of extraversion and conscientiousness, were significantly associated with decreased glucose metabolism.

That is, individuals with higher neurotic traits are at more risk of developing dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease. This finding creates a clear baseline to support further research into the underlying relationship between personality and dementia risk, so we can potentially identify those at risk much earlier.