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Another Reason for Memory Problems

Posted 7/31/2015

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  Memory problems, often blamed on chemobrain or cancer stress, are a frequent topic of conversation in my office. As I have said many times before, most people don't experience this as a major lasting issue, although many people feel blunted and less mentally sharp during treatment. It is easy and pretty obvious to blame that on fatigue and stress and anxiety and lots of medications. Once treatment is done, almost everyone gets back to baseline fairly quickly. The lasting issues, the "why did I come into the kitchen?" thoughts, are generally normal human experiences.

  Now this article from Medscape suggests a completely different interpretation--one that actually made me laugh aloud. The person who sent this to me added a comment: "Now I am really screwed", and that made me laugh, too, as she is one of the most competent and smartest women whom I know. So, take it or leave it, but here is another possible reason for memory problems: neuroticism.

Neuroticism Linked to Memory Problems
Liam Davenport

Individuals with a neurotic personality type may have reduced brain plasticity during the performance of working memory tasks that may affect their ability to store memories, say US researchers in findings that show the opposite effect in people with a conscientious personality.

In a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, investigators found that neuroticism was associated with weaker connectivity between two brain regions during performance of a working memory task, whereas conscientiousness was linked to stronger connectivity in healthy adults.

"Our results demonstrate that neural network plasticity, as measured by changes in effective connectivity, links individual differences in behavior and cognitive efficiency," the investigators write.

The study was published online July 20 in Human Brain Mapping.

Higher Neuroticism, Poorer Memory


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