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Psychiatry Investig. 2012 Sep;9(3):293-7. Epub 2012 Sep 6.

Temperament affects sympathetic nervous function in a normal population.

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Department of Psychiatry, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.



Although specific temperaments have been known to be related to autonomic nervous function in some psychiatric disorders, there are few studies that have examined the relationship between temperaments and autonomic nervous function in a normal population. In this study, we examined the effect of temperament on the sympathetic nervous function in a normal population.


Sixty eight healthy subjects participated in the present study. Temperament was assessed using the Korean version of the Cloninger Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI). Autonomic nervous function was determined by measuring skin temperature in a resting state, which was recorded for 5 minutes from the palmar surface of the left 5th digit using a thermistor secured with a Velcro® band. Pearson's correlation analysis and multiple linear regression were used to examine the relationship between temperament and skin temperature.


A higher harm avoidance score was correlated with a lower skin temperature (i.e. an increased sympathetic tone; r=-0.343, p=0.004) whereas a higher persistence score was correlated with a higher skin temperature (r=0.433, p=0.001). Hierarchical linear regression analysis revealed that harm avoidance was able to predict the variance of skin temperature independently, with a variance of 7.1% after controlling for sex, blood pressure and state anxiety and persistence was the factor predicting the variance of skin temperature with a variance of 5.0%.


These results suggest that high harm avoidance is related to an increased sympathetic nervous function whereas high persistence is related to decreased sympathetic nervous function in a normal population.


Harm avoidance; Skin temperature; Sympathetic nervous function; Temperament

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