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Front Hum Neurosci. 2013 Jun 13;7:288. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00288. eCollection 2013.

On the nature of extraversion: variation in conditioned contextual activation of dopamine-facilitated affective, cognitive, and motor processes.

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1
Human Development, Cornell University Ithaca, NY, USA.

Abstract

Research supports an association between extraversion and dopamine (DA) functioning. DA facilitates incentive motivation and the conditioning and incentive encoding of contexts that predict reward. Therefore, we assessed whether extraversion is related to the efficacy of acquiring conditioned contextual facilitation of three processes that are dependent on DA: motor velocity, positive affect, and visuospatial working memory. We exposed high and low extraverts to three days of association of drug reward (methylphenidate, MP) with a particular laboratory context (Paired group), a test day of conditioning, and three days of extinction in the same laboratory. A Placebo group and an Unpaired group (that had MP in a different laboratory context) served as controls. Conditioned contextual facilitation was assessed by (i) presenting video clips that varied in their pairing with drug and laboratory context and in inherent incentive value, and (ii) measuring increases from day 1 to Test day on the three processes above. Results showed acquisition of conditioned contextual facilitation across all measures to video clips that had been paired with drug and laboratory context in the Paired high extraverts, but no conditioning in the Paired low extraverts (nor in either of the control groups). Increases in the Paired high extraverts were correlated across the three measures. Also, conditioned facilitation was evident on the first day of extinction in Paired high extraverts, despite the absence of the unconditioned effects of MP. By the last day of extinction, responding returned to day 1 levels. The findings suggest that extraversion is associated with variation in the acquisition of contexts that predict reward. Over time, this variation may lead to differences in the breadth of networks of conditioned contexts. Thus, individual differences in extraversion may be maintained by activation of differentially encoded central representations of incentive contexts that predict reward.

KEYWORDS:

cognition; conditioning; dopamine; extraversion; motor velocity; positive affect

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