Alzheimer's disease is not a pleasant diagnosis at the best of times, and now research suggests some of the early markers of the disease could actually be linked to our own, repetitive negative thought patterns.
The study looked specifically at 'repeat negative thinking', which isn't just the regular sad thoughts we all go through - it's defined as a cognitive process that encompasses our worrying and ruminating thoughts.
What the team found was that these obsessive negative thought patterns were linked to an increase in cognitive decline and aggregation of amyloid beta proteins – a brain protein that's involved in Alzheimer's disease.
It's important to note that this research is still in early stages, has quite a few caveats, and is observational. And correlation doesn't equal causation - there's no evidence here that ruminating negative thoughts are causing these early signs of Alzheimer's.
So, there's definitely no need to start thinking positive thoughts to try and prevent memory loss (although there are unrelated health benefits to reducing rumination).
But it's still an interesting study and if the research pans out, it could eventually give us a new way to test who could be at risk of Alzheimer's.
"Understanding the factors that can increase the risk of dementia is vital in helping us improve our knowledge of this devastating condition and, where possible, developing prevention strategies," explains the Alzheimer's Society Director of Research and Influencing, Fiona Carragher.