Personality Changes Can Presage Cognitive Impairment Interview with:

Richard J. Caselli MD Department of Neurology Mayo Clinic Arizona Scottsdale, AZ 

Dr. Caselli

Richard J. Caselli MD
Department of Neurology
Mayo Clinic Arizona
Scottsdale, AZ What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Personality changes are common in patients with a variety of dementing illnesses, and underlie the behavioral disturbances that complicate the course of dementia patients.  We have a been conducting a large longitudinal study of cognitive aging in individuals at genetically defined risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) based on their APOE genotype, and have been administering a large battery of neuropsychological tests as well as the gold standard personality questionnaire (the NEO-PI-R) in order to determine whether personality changes during the transition from normal cognition/preclinical AD to mild cognitive impairment. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: While personality remains stable during the course of healthy aging and presymptomatically, once people develop memory difficulties that are severe enough to warrant a clinical diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment we do see a subtle personality change characterized by increasing “Neuroticism” (generally a descriptor of increasing proneness to stress) and decreasing “Openness” (less open to new ideas and new activities).  During this time there is no change in clinical behavioral disorders (e.g., we did not find more people receiving a diagnosis of depression), but there is nonetheless a statistically significant increase in scores on behavioral questionnaires regarding depression, anxiety, somatization, and other behavioral traits. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: We will continue to follow this cohort of individuals to determine the degree to which personality changes predict clinically significant behavioral disorders.  Once that is more clearly established we envision preventative measures that might avoid such behavioral disorders which could take the form of environmental or pharmacological interventions.

No disclosures 


Richard J. Caselli, Blake T. Langlais, Amylou C. Dueck, Bruce R. Henslin, Travis A. Johnson, Bryan K. Woodruff, Charlene Hoffman-Snyder, Dona E. C. Locke. Personality Changes During the Transition from Cognitive Health to Mild Cognitive Impairment. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2018; DOI: 10.1111/jgs.15182

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Last Updated on January 25, 2018 by Marie Benz MD FAAD