Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Conscientiousness and Alzheimer's disease

A report in the October issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry suggests that people who are more conscientious are less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease. Conscientiousness refers to a person's tendency to control their impulses, be goal-directed and be reliable. Over a 12-year period researchers from Rush University Medical School studied 997 older Catholic nuns, priests and monks none of whom had Alzheimer's at the start of the study. Their conscientiousness was assessed by a questionnaire and those who were most conscientous had an 89% lower risk of developing Alzheimer's than those who were least conscientious. However, conscientiousness did not affect the tangles and plaques in the brain associated with the condition. The researchers thought that conscientiousness might be linked to educational or occupational success, both of which reduce the incidence of Alzheimer's, and that conscientiousness improved people's resilience and ability to cope with difficulties. Conscientiousness has also been linked to protecting against a wide range of mental and physical disorders.

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