The link between personality traits and cognitive performance has been extensively studies, and it has been hypothesized to play a role in the predisposition toward obesity. Neuroticism and executive functions seem to be particularly involved, and reduced executive function has been proposed to underlie the association of neuroticism with sedentary behaviors and fatty food consumption. Nonetheless, conflicting evidence exist, and information regarding other cognitive domains, as well as studies on overweight individuals, are still scarce. We therefore examined cross-sectional associations of neuroticism and cognitive function with overweight and obesity in a sample of 170,310 individuals from the UK Biobank cohort. Specifically, we focused on fluid intelligence (FI) (reasoning ability), trail making test (TMT) (executive function), numeric memory test and pairs matching (PM) task (short-term memory). Correlations between neuroticism and cognitive performance were also explored. Moreover, we investigated whether neuroticism and executive function could predict BMI variability over time. We found that reduced FI and short-term memory were associated with overweight and obesity, while reduced executive function was associated with obesity but not with overweight. Low neuroticism was associated with being overweight rather than lean or obese independently of gender and life-style. Furthermore, baseline neuroticism scores could predict BMI variations over 5-10 years follow-up, and high neuroticism correlated with lower cognitive performance. Our findings support the link between personality and cognition, and the role of neuroticism in leading to greater weight variability over time, rather than to overweight/obesity itself.
Association of genetics, biomarkers, and environment with cognitive function and mental health
This project primarily aims to investigate the interactions between genetics and environmental factors in relation to mental health and cognitive decline. We will study genetic variants with known associations to cognitive decline as well perform a genome-wide exploratory approach for novel variants to determine genetic contributions to mental health and its interaction with environmental variations. Furthermore, we would like to examine associations between known and novel biomarkers, and cognitive function to understand the biological pathways underlying susceptibility to impaired cognitive function. The project provides insights in the relative contribution that environmental factors have on cognitive functioning in adult individuals. This could contribute to public health policies to support brain health and cognitive function in later life. Furthermore, novel insights into the molecular biology and the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms underlying these associations will be critical for providing information to health professionals to ease public-health related decisions. Statistical models will be utilized to analyze the associations between genotype and cognitive function and mental health. To examine causal effect of these genes, Mendelian randomization will be applied. Novel genetic variants will be derived from two-thirds of the cohort and validated in the remaining third. Linear models will be used to study the association between environmental factors and cognitive function. Modifying effects of biomarkers on cognitive function will be assessed by incorporating it through generalized linear models. To maximize power, the full cohort will be included in the project.
|Lead investigator:||Professor Helgi Schioth|
|Lead institution:||Uppsala University|