Positive Effects of Openness on Cognitive Aging in Middle-Aged and Older Adults: A 13-Year Longitudinal Study.


Department of Epidemiology of Aging, National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology, Aichi 474-8511, Japan. [Email]


The relationship between openness (a psychological trait of curiosity) and a cognitive change was examined in middle-aged and older adults. Participants were 2214 men and women (baseline age range: 40 to 81 years). They were tested up to seven times over approximately 13 years. Openness at the baseline was assessed by the NEO Five-Factor Inventory. Cognitive abilities were assessed at each examination using the Wechsler adult intelligence scale-revised short form, which includes information, similarities, picture completion, and digit symbol subscales. General linear mixed models comprised fixed effects of openness, age at the baseline, follow-up time, their interactions, and the covariates. The results indicated that the main effects of openness were significant for all scores. Moreover, the interaction term openness × age × time was significant for the information and similarities test scores, indicating that changes in the information and similarities scores differed depending on the level of openness and baseline age. The estimated trajectory indicated that the differences in slopes between participants with high and low openness were significant after 60 years of age for the information, and after 65 years of age for the similarities scores. It is concluded that openness has a protective effect on the decline in general knowledge and logical abstract thinking in old age.


cognitive aging,community-dwellers,openness,