Chill Now, Chill Later

February 5th, 2009 | Sources: MedPageToday, Neurology

A calm, not-so-easily distressed personality is associated with a 49% lower risk of developing dementia, according to Hui-Xin Wang and colleagues from the Karolinska Institute.

imgonnaliveforeverAnd according to the findings, which are published in Neurology,  it’s 49% whether a person is a socially outgoing extrovert or a less socially active, stay-at-home introvert.

The scientists reached these conclusions after reviewing findings from the Kungsholmen Project, a time-oriented population-based study of dementia and aging in Stockholm residents.

“These findings provide further evidence that certain personality traits may play a role in dementia development and that personality-lifestyle interactions may be especially important for determining dementia risk,” wrote the scientists.

Wang’s group believes any impact of chill personality is mediated by stress.

They point to previous studies showing that chronic stress adversely impacts the hippocampus and other regions of the brain, possibly causing dementia.

David Knopman, a Neurology professor at Mayo Clinic who commented on the report for MedPageToday, didn’t buy the link to stress though.

braniacHe thinks the chill personality trait reflects a brain that is fundamentally more resistant to dementia.

It’s also possible that folks who can and usually do chill are better at compensating for dementia symptoms, thereby delaying their appearance and skewing the data, according to Knopman.

Alas these findings may be good news for the legions of the laid back, but it’s not clear that the newly identified risk factor is subject to one’s control. And if not it’s about as useful as saying that age and family history are risk factors for dementia.


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