A tendency toward anxiety, moodiness and impulsivity is linked to poorer cognitive function in older age, a new study has found. Intervention may help to better preserve cognitive abilities in adults with this personality type, say researchers from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL.
Some seniors have better cognitive function than others despite having similar amounts of the tangles and sticky plaques that collect in aging brains. In the study, investigators found that adults with anxious personalities (known as neuroticism in clinical psychology) were more likely to have worse cognitive function than their peers who had a more resilient personality, despite having alike brain changes at autopsy.
The evidence suggests that adults who are helped to develop more resilience may be able to better preserve cognitive function, wrote lead study author Eileen Graham, Ph.D. Cognitive resilience is associated with a greater tendency toward self-discipline, organization, diligence, high achievement and motivation.
“Since it is possible for personality to change, both volitionally and through interventions, it’s possible that personality could be used to identify those who are at risk, and to implement early interventions to help optimize function throughout old age,” she wrote.
Cognitive resilience also may be key to functioning well during times of great stress, such as during the current pandemic, Graham added.
The study was published in The Journals of Gerontology.