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People who possess greater mathematical skills (i.e., numeracy) are generally more accurate in interpreting numerical data than less numerate people. However, recent evidence has suggested that more numerate people may use their numerical skills to interpret data only if their initial interpretation conflicts with their worldview. That is, if an initial, intuitive (but incorrect) interpretation of data appears to disconfirm one’s beliefs, then numerical skills are used to further process the data and reach the correct interpretation, whereas numerical skills are not used in situations where an initial incorrect interpretation of the data appears to confirm one’s beliefs (i.e., motivated numeracy). In the present study, participants were presented with several data problems, some with correct answers confirming their political views and other disconfirming their views. The difficulty of these problems was manipulated to examine how numeracy would influence the rate of correct responses on easier vs. more difficult problems. Results indicated that participants were more likely to answer problems correctly if the correct answer confirmed rather than disconfirmed their political views, and this response pattern did not depend on problem difficulty or numerical skill. Although more numerate participants were more accurate overall, this was true both for problems in which the correct answer confirmed and disconfirmed participants’ political views.
Depression is one of the most frequent mental health problems in older populations.1 To the best of our knowledge, the prevalence of depressive symptomatology (DS) among centenarians in Switzerland is unknown. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic may have had a negative impact. As part of the study SWISS1002, we intend to provide key information on centenarians’ levels of DS.
To describe the DS of Switzerland’s centenarians during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Randomly selected centenarians from across Switzerland and their proxy relatives were invited to participate. Data are collected via telephone. The questionnaire includes the assessment of DS via the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS)– 5 items.3 Preliminary data were analysed using descriptive statistics.
Telephone interviews were completed with 51 centenarians, and for 19 of them, proxy relatives also answered. The MAge of the centenarians was 101.41 (1.47) years, 34 (66.67%) were female and 27 (52.94%) lived at home. The mean score of the GDS–5 was 1.32 (SD=1.49). Considering a cut-off ≥2, 18 (36%) centenarians were screened positive for possible depression. Descriptive statistics indicated effects of gender (men: M=1.41, SD=1.46; women: M=1.27, SD=1.53) and living situation (private: M=1.07, SD=1.36; institution: M=1.61, SD=1.62). Centenarians’ and proxy reports were significantly related (ρ=0.56; p<.05).
Clinically relevant DS are highly prevalent among centenarians during the COVID-19 pandemic (36%), which is consistent with a recent study4 reporting a prevalence of 32% in a sample of younger older adults (MAge: 77.6, SD=6.9). To conclude, DS in centenarians should be screened systematically, especially in this time of unprecedented health crisis.
Specific changes in personality profiles may represent early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Knowledge about relationship between personality changes and biomarkers of cerebral pathology can contribute to early diagnosis of AD.
To investigate to what extent the personality changes predict the cerebral AD pathology.
To describe the relationship between the personality changes and pathological cerebro-spinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers.
One hundred and ten subjects, of whom 57 patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), 9 subjects with mild dementia, and 44 healthy controls had an extensive medical and neuropsychological examination as well as lumbar puncture to evaluate concentrations of CSF biomarkers of AD pathology [amyloid-β1-42 (Aβ1-42), phosphorylated tau (ptau-181), and total-tau (tau)]. The proxies of the participants completed the Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) to assess subjects’ personality at the time being and 5 years retrospectively.
In a hierarchical multivariate regression analysis, including age, gender, education, Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE), and APOEe4 status, lower Aβ1-42 concentrations in CSF were associated with increasing neuroticism, and decreasing extraversion and conscientiousness. Decreasing extraversion, openness to experience and conscientiousness were associated with higher tau/Aβ1-42 ratio, and higher ptau-181/Aβ1-42 ratio was related to decreasing extraversion. Personality changes in the domain of agreeableness did not yield any significant effect as a predictor on any of CSF biomarkers.
Our findings suggest that early and specific changes in personality traits are associated with cerebral AD pathology, in particular with amyloid pathology, and may serve as clinical signs to consider when evaluating MCI and mild dementia.
Disclosure of interest
The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.