Thursday, 12 January 2017

#ClinicSpeak & #ResearchSpeak: personality and its interactions with MS

How large is your cognitive reserve? Your personality may reflect this and protect you from memory loss. #ClinicSpeak #ResearchSpeak #MSBlog

Did you know that in the general population 'openness', a personality trait, is associated with better memory. Why? Openness encompasses intellectual curiosity, aesthetic sensitivity, and imagination and is positively correlated with measured IQ and education. Therefore, openness is associated with greater cognitive reserve. In the study below the investigators have extended this work into MS and show that openness and lower neuroticism is associated with better memory in pwMS. In comparison lower conscientiousness is associated with memory impairment. If you are interested you can complete the 5-factor personality test online and see how open or neurotic you are.

BACKGROUND: Memory impairment in multiple sclerosis (MS) is common, although few risk/protective factors are known.

OBJECTIVE: To examine relationships of personality to memory/non-memory cognition in MS.

METHOD: 80 patients completed a cognitive battery and a personality scale measuring the "Big 5" traits: openness, neuroticism, agreeableness, extraversion, and conscientiousness.

RESULTS: Memory was most related to openness, with higher openness linked to better memory and lower risk for memory impairment, controlling for age, atrophy, education, and intelligence quotient (IQ). Lower neuroticism was also related to better memory, and lower conscientiousness to memory impairment. Non-memory cognition was unrelated to personality.

CONCLUSION: Personality may inform predictive models of memory impairment in MS.


  1. Fun! Like those things in women's magazines.

    Extraversion: relatively low
    Agreeableness: about average
    Conscientiousness: relatively high
    Neuroticism: relatively low
    Openness: relatively high

  2. Well, your colleagues at Imperial college recently discovered that this is modifiable
    LSD-induced entropic brain activity predicts subsequent personality change.

  3. Note to self: stop reading Barts' MS blog over the New Year break - like Waldkauz said, it becomes a bit like women's magazines.


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