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We sought to investigate the relationship between neuroticism and depression in an elderly cohort. In this paper, we describe the methods of an National Institute of Mental Health—NIMH-supported study and present findings among the cohort enrolled to date.
We used the NEO Personality Inventory to assess neuroticism, and we employed several cognitive neuroscience-based measures to examine emotional control.
Compared with a group of 27 non-depressed older control subjects, 33 older depressed subjects scored higher on measures of state and trait anxiety and neuroticism. On our experimental neuroscience-based measures, depressed subjects endorsed more negative words compared with controls on an emotional characterization test. In addition, we found a significant group-by-congruency effect on an emotional interference test where subjects were asked to identify the face's emotional expression while ignoring the words “fear” or “happy” labeled across the face.
Thus, in this preliminary work, we found significant differences in measures of neuroticism and emotional controls among older adults with and without depression.