A Culture–Brain Link: Negative Age Stereotypes Predict Alzheimer’s Disease Biomarkers

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Abstract

Although negative age stereotypes have been found to predict adverse outcomes among older individuals, it was unknown whether the influence of stereotypes extends to brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease. To consider this possibility, we drew on dementia-free participants, in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, whose age stereotypes were assessed decades before yearly magnetic resonance images and brain autopsies were performed. Those holding more-negative age stereotypes earlier in life had significantly steeper hippocampal-volume loss and significantly greater accumulation of neurofibrillary tangles and amyloid plaques, adjusting for relevant covariates. These findings suggest a new pathway to identifying mechanisms and potential interventions related to the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease.

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