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PLoS One. 2011;6(12):e28421. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0028421. Epub 2011 Dec 9.

Extraversion is linked to volume of the orbitofrontal cortex and amygdala.

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Institute for Psychological Research, Clinical, Health and Neuropsychology Unit, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands.


Neuroticism and extraversion are personality factors associated with the vulnerability for developing depression and anxiety disorders, and are possibly differentially related to brain structures implicated in the processing of emotional information and the generation of mood states. To date, studies on brain morphology mainly focused on neuroticism, a dimension primarily related to negative affect, yielding conflicting findings concerning the association with personality, partially due to methodological issues and variable population samples under study. Recently, extraversion, a dimension primarily related to positive affect, has been repeatedly inversely related to with symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders. In the present study, high resolution structural T1-weighted MR images of 65 healthy adults were processed using an optimized Voxel Based Morphometry (VBM) approach. Multiple regression analyses were performed to test for associations of neuroticism and extraversion with prefrontal and subcortical volumes. Orbitofrontal and right amygdala volume were both positively related to extraversion. Extraversion was differentially related to volume of the anterior cingulate cortex in males (positive) and females (negative). Neuroticism scores did not significantly correlate with these brain regions. As extraversion is regarded a protective factor for developing anxiety disorders and depression and has been related to the generation of positive affect, the present results indicate that the reduced likelihood of developing affective disorders in individuals high on extraversion is related to modulation of emotion processing through the orbitofrontal cortex and the amygdala.

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