The Shape Of Your Brain Says A Lot About Your Personality

Posted: Jan 29 2017, 1:05pm CST | by , Updated: Jan 29 2017, 1:10pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

The Shape of Your Brain Says a Lot About Your Personality
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New study investigates the link between brain structure and five major personality traits

Are you a perceiver, motivator or a persuader? Every individual has different personality and traits.

Psychologists have already worked out that all personality traits can be divided into five categories, commonly called Big Five: neuroticism, agreeableness, extraversion, conscientiousness and openness. Neuroticism is the tendency to be in depressive mood or in a negative emotional state; agreeableness involves sympathy or cooperation; extraversion is the tendency to be sociable and enthusiastic; openness reflects how open-minded a person is and conscientiousness is a personality trait of being careful or vigilant. 

Now, for the first time, researchers have investigated the link between personality traits and the structure of the brain.

For the study, researchers scanned the brains of more than 500 people aged 22 to 36 and looked at the difference in their cortex, the heavily wrinkled outer layer of brain also known grey matter.

They were especially focused on three measures -- the thickness, area, and amount of folding in the cortex of an individual’s brain.

Researchers found that the shape of the brain actually influences to five major personality traits. For instance, neuroticism was linked to a thicker cortex and less folding in some brain regions. Conversely, openness was associated with thinner cortex and greater folding.

"Evolution has shaped our brain anatomy in a way that maximizes its area and folding by reducing thickness of the cortex. It's like stretching and folding a rubber sheet -- this increases the surface area, but at the same time the sheet itself becomes thinner. We refer to this as the 'cortical stretching hypothesis,’” said co-author Luca Passamonti from the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Cambridge.

“Cortical stretching is a key evolutionary mechanism that enabled human brains to expand rapidly while still fitting into our skulls.”

Since neuroticism is indicates emotions like anxiety, depression and envy, the discovery opens a new way to understand underlying mental illnesses.

“Linking how brain structure is related to basic personality is a crucial step to improving our understanding of the link between the brain morphology and particular mood, cognitive or behavioral disorders,” said Passamonti. “We also need to have a better understanding of the relation between brain structure and function in healthy people to figure out what is different in people with neurological and psychiatric disorders.”

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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