Alzheimer’s irreversibly destroys the brain, taking away memory and the ability to live independently. Despite the fact that tens of millions of people are already struggling with it (and the number is growing rapidly), the disease still hides secrets. It is still unknown exactly what triggers the destructive process in the nervous system. Scientists, however, found a different trail. It turns out that two personality traits may favor the development of Alzheimer’s. What exactly was discovered?
- Alzheimer’s is an irreversible brain disease that gradually destroys memory and thinking abilities. – It comes to the point that a person does not remember either what he did before or what happened in the past. There is total confusion and helplessness – says neurologist Dr. Milczarek
- Accumulation of amyloid plaques and tau in the brain is known to be associated with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias
- Research by scientists has shown that two personality traits may be associated with the development of Alzheimer’s, and specifically with the deposition of these substances in the brain
- More important information can be found on the Onet homepage.
Alzheimer’s Disease – What Happens to You and Why
Alzheimer’s disease is an incurable disease of the brain that destroys neurons (the brain gradually shrinks), and so also memory, thinking ability and, finally, the ability to perform the simplest activities. Alzheimer’s disease is progressive, which means that symptoms develop gradually over many years, leading to more and more problems.
In the advanced stage, the patient is no longer able to perform normal daily activities – he cannot dress, eat, wash himself, he becomes completely dependent on the care of others. – It comes to the point that a person does not remember either what he did before or what happened in the past. There is total confusion and helplessness – said neurologist Dr. Olga Milczarek from SCM Clinic in Krakow in an interview for MedTvoiLokona. (Full Interview: In Alzheimer’s, the brain shrinks and shrinks. Why? explains the neurologist).
It is known that the cause of Alzheimer’s disease is the build-up of two types of proteins in the brain: the so-called beta-amyloid; and tau proteins to take the place of nerve cells. – This area becomes granular, aquatic, spongy, works less and less and eventually disappears – explains Dr. Milczarek. The place where these compounds accumulate determines the symptoms that will appear in a given patient.
Unfortunately, it is still unknown exactly what triggers this destructive process. It is likely to be influenced by a combination of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors. The importance of any of these in increasing or decreasing the risk of developing the disease can vary from person to person. In this field, scientists made a very interesting discovery. It turns out that the two z personality traits may favor or reduce the risk of destructive changes in the brain. The results of the analyzes were published in the scientific journal Biological Psychiatry.
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Personality traits that make up the Big Five. What do they mean?
Before we explain what the features are, we must mention the so-called The Big Five, a personality model that consists of five main features. Scientists have referred to them.
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These traits are known to develop early in life and, according to mental health experts, “have a wide influence on important life outcomes”. The Big Five consists of:
Amicability – attitude to the social world. This trait describes a person who is positive towards others, respectful, empathetic, trusting, sincere, cooperative, trying to avoid conflicts.
Openness – describes a person who is curious about the world, open to new experiences / emotions flowing from both the external and internal world.
Extroversion – writes a man who is looking for excitement, is active, very sociable, willing to play
Scrupulousness – describes someone who is responsible, obligatory, scrupulous, goal-oriented and detail-oriented, but also careful. While a high intensity of this trait may even lead to workaholism, a weak one means paying less attention to fulfilling one’s duties and being spontaneous in action.
Neuroticism – means a tendency to experience negative emotions, such as e.g. anxiety, anger, sadness. People with a high level of this trait are prone to stress, they experience all difficulties very much, and ordinary life situations may seem very threatening and frustrating to them. They have a hard time getting back into emotional equilibrium, and it usually takes longer.
The researchers conducted two analyzes which led to one conclusion. It refers to the last two traits of the Big Five: conscientiousness and neuroticism.
Two traits of the Big Five and their impact on the development of Alzheimer’s. Two studies, one conclusion
Over 3 people participated in the research. people. First, we analyzed data from people participating in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA) – America’s longest-running study on human aging.
In order to identify the features of the Big Five, participants completed a questionnaire consisting of 240 items. Within one year of completing this document, the participants were checked for the presence (or absence) of amyloid plaques and tau in their brains. This was made possible by PET (positron emission tomography) – a non-invasive imaging test.
The second work was a meta-analysis of 12 studies that investigated the relationship between Alzheimer’s disease pathology and personality traits.
I a BLSA-based study and meta-analysis led to the same conclusion: the strongest association between the risk of developing dementia was related to two characteristics: neuroticism and conscientiousness. People with high levels of neuroticism or low conscientiousness were more likely to develop amyloid plaques and tau tangles. People with high conscientiousness scores or low neuroticism scores were less likely to experience it.
- Find out more: Younger people are also affected by dementia and alzheimer’s disease. How to recognize? Unusual symptoms
One may ask whether this relationship begins with a specific level of intensity of both characteristics. Dr. Antonio Terracciano, of the Florida State University Department of Geriatrics, has the answer: These links appear to be linear, with no threshold […], and no specific level that triggers resistance or susceptibility.
The aforementioned study was of an observational nature, so it did not provide an answer to the question of what mechanisms are behind the discovered phenomenon. While more research is needed here, scientists have several theories.
According to Dr. Claire Sexton, director of research programs and aid at the Alzheimer’s Association (not involved in research), “one potential pathway is personality-related inflammation and the development of Alzheimer’s biomarkers.” “Lifestyle is another potential path,” Dr. Sexton notes. – For example, people with high conscientiousness have been shown to lead healthier lifestyles (in terms of physical activity, smoking, sleep, cognitive stimulation, etc.) than those with lower conscientiousness.
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