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The relation between tendency for psychopathology and reduced frontal brain volume in healthy people.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 19104, USA.



We hypothesized that tendency toward psychopathology is associated with lower frontotemporal volumes.


Although there is considerable evidence for structural abnormalities in patients with major psychiatric disorders and increased recognition that neural substrates may underlie individual differences in personality, there have been no studies in healthy people attempting to relate personality to volumetric measures of brain structure.


We used magnetic resonance imaging with an advanced method for automated segmentation of cranial compartments to gray matter, white matter, and cerebrospinal fluid. We examined the relation between frontal and temporal lobe volumes and Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory measures of tendency toward psychopathology in 59 healthy individuals.


As hypothesized, higher scores on the clinical scales were associated with lower average frontal lobe volume. When the sample was divided according to sex, however, these correlations were significant in men (n = 29) but not in women (n = 30). The highest correlation was observed between lower frontal white matter volume in men and high schizophrenia scale score (r[27] = -0.59, p <0.001).


The findings suggest that personality dimensions in healthy people can be linked to neural substrates, which can potentially serve as endophenotypic markers of disposition to psychopathology. The sexually dimorphic effects are consistent with gender-related differences in the clinical manifestations of psychiatric disorders and may suggest sex hormone modulation of the psychopathologic processes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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