Alzheimer's Disease: When Does Personality Start to Change?

September 22, 2017

Medical News Today
Ana Sandoiu

A new study recently published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry investigates whether or not changes in personality precede the onset of mild cognitive impairment or dementia.

The researchers - who were jointly led by Antonio Terracciano and Angelina Sutin, both associate professors at Florida State University College of Medicine in Tallahassee - investigated dementia-related personality changes in a cohort of more than 2,000 people.

The longitudinal study followed these participants for 36 years, during which time the researchers looked for increased neuroticism, decreased conscientiousness, and other personality changes.

It is known that personality and behavioral changes accompany Alzheimer's disease. Caregivers report irritability, moodiness, or loss of motivation in their patients, which negatively affect their quality of life.

These are clinical criteria for diagnosing the illness, but it remains debatable whether or not these changes occur before the onset of dementia - as a consequence of the brain pathologies that characterize the disease and occur years before a formal diagnosis - or whether personality changes are just independent risk factors for the condition.

Read Full Article