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Brain Structure May Have An Effect On Personality, Researchers Say

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People’s personalities may have something to do with the difference in thickness and volume of various parts of the brain, according to an international study.

Those who have thicker and less wrinkled outer layers of the brain were more likely to have neurotic tendencies, the researchers said. Meanwhile, people who were open-minded had thinner outer brain layers, the BBC reports.

Experts agree that while the study’s premise was worth looking into, it was difficult to interpret something as subjective as personality.

Scientists from the US, UK and Italy looked at brain scans of 500 young, healthy individuals. The volunteers also answered questionnaires that evaluated five distinct personality traits: neuroticism a person’s moodiness), extraversion (how outgoing or enthusiastic a person is), openness (open-mindedness), conscientiousness and agreeableness.

On examination, the researchers found that different traits were associated with the differences in the thickness of the cortex, how wrinkled the cortex was, and the brain’s overall volume.

Dr. Luca Passamonti from Cambridge University said the study could help understand mental health.

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.

He added, “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 neuropsychiatric disorders.”

The researchers admitted that more research is necessary to validate their conclusions.

Michael Anderson, an associate professor of psychology at Franklin and Marshall College, said that while the study was “carefully done, using well-controlled methods,” the study was difficult to interpret. He said, “Most regions of the brain are associated with multiple cognitive and behavioral functions, so it can be difficult to say with any confidence which functions are relevant to these particular associations.”

The study was published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.

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