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Neuroimage. 2012 Jan 2;59(1):800-7. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.07.040. Epub 2011 Aug 2.

White matter integrity and five-factor personality measures in healthy adults.

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Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510, USA.


The five-factor model organizes personality traits into five factors: Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness to Experience, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness. Measures of these personality traits predict people's behaviors and important outcomes of their lives. Therefore, understanding the neural correlates of these personality traits is important. This study assessed the relationships between white matter (WM) integrity and personality traits among 51 healthy participants using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and the revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R). Neuroticism correlated positively while Openness and Agreeableness correlated negatively with DTI mean diffusivity (MD) in the corona radiata and superior longitudinal fasciculus, tracts that interconnect prefrontal cortex (PFC), parietal cortex, and subcortical structures. Furthermore, Neuroticism correlated positively with MD in the anterior cingulum and uncinate fasciculus, tracts interconnecting PFC and amygdala. Openness correlated negatively with MD of WM adjacent to the dorsolateral PFC in both hemispheres. These findings suggest that greater Neuroticism associates with worse integrity of WM interconnecting extensive cortical and subcortical structures including the PFC and amygdala and that greater Openness associates with better integrity of WM interconnecting extensive cortical and subcortical structures including the dorsolateral PFC.

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