Study warns chronically negative people face greater dementia risk

If you're a grumpy person who always sees the bad side of things, it may be time to take a proactive step in changing the way you view the world. A new study has linked chronic negativity with an increased risk of developing cognitive problems and, later in life, dementia. The pessimists in the study were found to have higher levels of proteins in their brains that are associated with the development of Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

The research comes from University College London where scientists studied the effects of negative thinking in adults over the age of 55. The results were somewhat surprising — people who engage in a practice called repetitive negative thinking (RNT) were more likely to experience a decline in their cognitive performance as they got older.

As well, people who chronically engaged in negative thinking patterns were also found to have greater deposits of harmful brain proteins called tau and amyloid. The build-up of these proteins has been linked to dementia and Alzheimer's disease and was identified in the study participants using PET brain scans.

Past studies have found that people suffering from depression and anxiety are more likely to suffer from dementia later in life; this new study may shed light on why, pointing toward the negative thinking patterns that are common with these two conditions.

The study involved nearly 300 participants over the course of two years, nearly half of whom also participated in PET brain scans. The researchers looked at multiple aspects of brain health, including memory, attention, and language capabilities, among other things. Over the course of four years, the participants who engaged in RNT were more likely to have harmful protein deposits and memory issues, making it a dementia risk factor.