Some individuals have generally negative view of life while some others tend to be very sociable or enthusiastic -- the shape of the brain may have something to do with that. A recent study reveals that the thickness, area and folding in the cortex are related to the five major personality traits. These traits include neuroticism, openness, extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.
To investigate the shape of the brain and neural brain functions, researchers studied the imaging datasets of more than 500 individuals without history of neurological disorders. The study focuses on the so-called cortical stretching, an evolutionary mechanism of the human brain which allows it to stretch while still fitting in the skull. This process occurs as the brain develops on the womb, all throughout up to adulthood.
The findings of the study were published in the journal, Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, on Tuesday, Jan. 24. Neuroticism, the tendency to be in negative emotional state, sometimes leading to some neuro-psychiatric disorders, was associated with folding in the prefrontal-temporal cortices. It is also linked to increased thickness and reduced area of the brain.
Meanwhile, opposite patterns were linked to how open-minded a person is or openness. These patterns include folding in in some prefrontal cortices, reduced thickness and an increase in area. This trait also has something to do with curiosity and creativity.
Extraversion, or being sociable and enthusiastic, was correlated to smaller superior temporal cortex area and thicker pre-cuneus. Agreeableness or altruism was associated with smaller fusiform gyrus area and thinner prefrontal cortex. Lastly, conscientiousness (self-control and determination) was linked with folding in prefrontal regions, thicker cortex and smaller area.
"Linking how brain structure is related to basic personality traits is a crucial step to improving our understanding of the link between the brain morphology and particular mood, cognitive or behavioral disorders," Luca Passamonti from the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Cambridge and senior author of the study said according to Science Daily. He added that the knowledge of the link of the shape of the brain and its function could help to better understanding of people with neurological and psychiatric disorders.