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Repetitive Negative Thinking May Increase Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

Repetitive negative thinking is a style of thinking about one's problems or negative experiences that is repetitive, intrusive, and difficult to disengage from. A new study suggests that repetitive negative thinking is associated with a decrease in cognitive function and an increase in a substance believed to increase Alzheimer’s disease risk.

Participants in the study included 292 adults who took part in the Pre‐symptomatic Evaluation of Experimental or Novel Treatments for Alzheimer's Disease study and 68 adults who took part in the Multi‐Modal Neuroimaging in Alzheimer's Disease study. Participants were assessed for repetitive negative thinking, anxiety, depression, and cognitive function at baseline, 12 months, 24 months, 36 months, and 48 months. Approximately one-third of the participants also had PET brain scans to measure deposits of tau and amyloid proteins, which cause Alzheimer’s disease went they build up in the brain.

Participants who exhibited the highest amount of repetitive negative thinking were found to have an increased decline in cognitive function and declines in immediate and delayed memory. They also were more likely to have tau and amyloid deposits in their brain.

The study was conducted by researchers from University College London and McGill University. It was published online ahead of print on June 7, 2020 in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia.

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