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Psychophysiology. 2019 Apr 3:e13376. doi: 10.1111/psyp.13376. [Epub ahead of print]

Structural correlates of the orbitofrontal cortex and amygdala and personality in female adolescents.

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Department of Psychology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York.
Department of Psychiatry, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York.
Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.


The five-factor model consists of cognitive-affective-behavioral trait dimensions (neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, conscientiousness) that are central to models of psychopathology. In adults, individual differences in three of the Big Five traits, neuroticism, extraversion, and conscientiousness, have been linked to structural morphology and connectivity of the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and the amygdala, two brain regions critically involved in affective and regulatory processing. It is unclear whether these associations manifest in adolescence, a critical neurodevelopmental period during which many forms of psychiatric illness emerge. A total of 223 adolescent girls (ages 14-16 years) completed a multimodal neuroimaging study that utilized T1-weighted structural MRI (e.g., cortical thickness and volume) and tractography-based diffusion tensor imaging (64-direction). Cortical thickness and volume were extracted from the medial orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC) and amygdala and tractography-based fractional anisotropy was computed in the uncinate fasciculus (UF; the white matter tract connecting the OFC to the temporal lobe). We found that high neuroticism was associated with less mOFC volume (bilateral), and low conscientiousness was associated with higher white matter integrity in the UF, more amygdala volume, and less mOFC thickness (right hemisphere). Extraversion was not observed to share associations with OFC markers. These OFC-amygdala structural correlations to personality do not match those reported in adult samples. Multimodal neuroimaging techniques can help to clarify the underpinnings of personality development between adolescence and adulthood.


adolescents; amygdala; diffusion tensor imaging; five-factor personality model; orbitofrontal cortex; structural MRI


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