A Yale School of Public Health study has found people who hold negative thoughts about aging are more likely to have brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease, Science Daily reports.
The study found that people who held more negative thoughts about aging, such as “elderly people are decrepit,” showed a greater decline in the volume of the hippocampus, a part of the brain crucial to memory.
The study is the first of its kind to link brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s to cultural-based psychosocial risk factors.
“We believe it is the stress generated by the negative beliefs about aging that individuals sometimes internalise from society that can result in pathological brain changes,” associate professor of public health and of psychology Becca Levy said.
“Although the findings are concerning, it is encouraging to realise that these negative beliefs about aging can be mitigated and positive beliefs about aging can be reinforced so that the adverse impact is not inevitable.”