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No Preclinical Dementia Personality Change Found

JAMA Psychiatry; ePub 2017 Sep 20; Terracciano, et al

No evidence for preclinical change in personality before the onset of mild cognitive impairment or dementia was identified in a recent cohort study that followed 2,046 older adults for as long as 36 years. The cohort of community-dwelling older adults volunteered to participate in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. The study examined personality and clinical assessments obtained between 1980 and July 13, 2016, from participants with no cognitive impairment at first assessment. Of total participants, 931 [45.5%] were women; mean (SD) age at first assessment was 62.56 (14.63) years. Researchers found:

  • During 24,569 person-years, mild cognitive impairment was diagnosed in 104 (5.1%) individuals, and all-cause dementia was diagnosed in 255 (12.5%) participants, including 194 (9.5%) with Alzheimer disease.
  • Multilevel modeling that accounted for age, sex, race, and educational level found significant differences on the intercept of several traits: individuals who developed dementia scored higher on neuroticism and lower on conscientiousness and extraversion.
  • Change in personality, however, was not significantly different between the non-impaired and the Alzheimer disease groups (eg, neuroticism, conscientiousness).


Terracciano A, An Y, Suton AR. Thambisetty M, Resnick SM. Personality change in the preclinical phase of Alzheimer disease. [Published online ahead of print September 20, 2017]. JAMA Psychiatry. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.2816.

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