AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 4, 2017


Chimpanzee Personality Linked to Anatomy of Brain Structures

Recent findings discovered by researchers from Georgia State University show that personality traits from chimpanzees can be linked to specific brain structures. The results of the study, published in the journal NeuroImage, revealed that both gray-matter volumes of various frontal cortex regions and gray-matter volume asymmetries are associated with various personality traits. “Our results confirm the importance of neuroscientific approaches to the study of basic personalities and suggest that when compared to humans many of these associations are comparable in chimpanzees,” said the study’s lead author. The researchers studied 107 chimpanzees’ brains using MRI scans and assessed each personality by using a 41-item personality questionnaire. They found chimpanzees who were rated higher for the personality traits of openness and extraversion had greater gray-matter volumes in the anterior cingulate cortex in both hemispheres of the brain. Chimpanzees who were rated higher on dominance had larger gray-matter volumes in the left anterior cingulate cortex and right prefrontal cortex. Chimpanzees who rated higher on reactivity/unpredictability had higher gray-matter volumes in the right mesial prefrontal cortex. Previous studies suggest the existence of largely similar personality traits in humans and chimpanzees, however, researchers had not explored the neuroanatomical basis of these traits in nonhuman primates. To read more about this study, click here.


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