Background and objectives: Social isolation is associated with a higher risk of dementia. We previously conducted and showed the efficacy of an intervention which uses conversation (the core component of social interactions) as a tool to enhance cognitive function. We now explore whether cognitive improvements through conversation-based intervention depend on an individual's personality.
Research design and methods: We reexamined data from a 6-week randomized controlled trial (ClinicalTrials.gov Number: NCT01571427) to determine whether conversation-based intervention effects were moderated by personality traits in 83 older adults (mean age = 80.51 years, 49 cognitively intact, 34 individuals with mild cognitive impairment). The intervention group participated in daily 30-min face-to-face semi-structured conversations with trained interviewers through a web-enabled system for 6 weeks. At baseline, psychosocial questionnaires and a neuropsychological battery were completed.
Results: Intervention group participants with high agreeableness, conscientiousness, and extraversion exhibited significant improvements in language-based executive function tasks beyond changes in the control group (ps < .05). An opposite pattern for delayed recall memory and working memory tasks emerged among highly extraverted participants (ps < .05).
Discussion and implications: Our exploratory findings suggest the adaptive role of personality traits in conversation-based cognitive interventions may be limited to tasks incorporating a language component, and offer initial evidence for personalized approaches to cognitive health in late life.
Keywords: Clinical trial methods; Cognition; Intervention; Personality traits; Social engagement.
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