AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 28, Number 1, 2019


FSU Research Links Brain Shape to Personality Differences

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New study examines how brain’s outer layer can influence personality

New research reveals the shape of our brain can provide surprising clues about how we behave and our risk of developing mental health disorders. Florida State University College of Medicine associate professor Antonio Terracciano joined a team of researchers from the U.S., United Kingdom and Italy to examine the connection between personality traits and brain structure. Their study looked at differences in the anatomy of the cortex (the outer layer of the brain) as indexed by three measures — the thickness, area and amount of folding in the cortex — and how these measures related to the five major personality traits. The traits include neuroticism, the tendency to be in a negative emotional state; extraversion, the tendency to be sociable and enthusiastic; openness, how open-minded a person is; agreeableness, a measure of altruism and cooperativeness; and conscientiousness, a measure of self-control and determination. The study involved an imaging dataset from more than 500 individuals made publicly available by the Human Connectome Project, an ambitious effort by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to map neural pathways underlying human brain function.

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