Background: Trait negative affect (NA) is a central feature of anxiety and depression disorders. Neurocognitive and scar models propose that within-person increase in NA across one period of time relates to a decline in cognitive functioning at a future period of time and vice versa. Yet, there has been little research on whether a within-person change in trait NA across one time-lag precedes and is associated with a change in cognition across a future time lag and vice versa. Due to a growing aging population, such knowledge can inform evidence-based prevention. Methods: Participants were 520 dementia-free community-dwelling adults (mean age = 59.76 years [standard deviation = 8.96], 58.08% females). Trait-level NA (negative emotionality scale), spatial cognition (block design and card rotations), verbal working memory (WM; digit span backward), and processing speed (symbol digit modalities) were assessed at five time points (waves) across 23 years. Bivariate dual latent change score (LCS) approaches were used to adjust for regression to the mean, lagged outcomes, and between-person variability. Results: Unique bivariate LCS models showed that within-person increase in trait NA across two sequential waves was related to declines in spatial cognition, verbal WM, and processing speed across the subsequent two waves. Moreover, within-person reductions in spatial cognition, verbal WM, and processing speed across two sequential waves were associated with future increases in trait NA across the subsequent two waves. Conclusions: Findings concur with neurobiological and scar theories of psychopathology. Furthermore, results support process-based emotion regulation models that highlight the importance of verbal WM, spatial cognition, and processing speed capacities for downregulating NA.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health