Academic journal article Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience

Neuroticism and Extraversion Are Associated with Amygdala Resting-State Functional Connectivity

Academic journal article Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience

Neuroticism and Extraversion Are Associated with Amygdala Resting-State Functional Connectivity

Article excerpt

Published online: 19 December 2013

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2013

Abstract The personality traits neuroticism and extraversion are differentially related to socioemotional functioning and susceptibility to affective disorders. However, the neurobiology underlying this differential relationship is still poorly understood. This discrepancy could perhaps best be studied by adopting a brain connectivity approach. Whereas the amygdala has repeatedly been linked to neuroticism and extraversion, no study has yet focused on the intrinsic functional architecture of amygdala-centered networks in relation to both traits. To this end, seed-based correlation analysis was employed to reveal amygdala resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) and its associations with neuroticism and extraversion in 50 healthy participants. Higher neuroticism scores were associated with increased amygdala RSFC with the precuneus, and decreased amygdala RSFC with the temporal poles, insula, and superior temporal gyrus (p <.05,cluster corrected). Conversely, higher extraversion scores were associated with increased amygdala RSFC with the putamen, temporal pole, insula, and several regions of the occipital cortex (p < .05, cluster corrected). The shifts in amygdala RSFC associated with neuroticism may relate to the lessadaptive perception and processing of self-relevant and socioemotional information that is frequently seen in neurotic individuals, whereas the amygdala RSFC pattern associated with extraversion may relate to the heightened reward sensitivity and enhanced socioemotional functioning in extraverts. We hypothesize that the variability in amygdala RSFC observed in the present study could potentially link neuroticism and extraversion to the neurobiology underlying increased susceptibility or resilience to affective disorders.

Keywords Neuroticism . Extraversion . Amygdala . Resting-state fMRI . Functional connectivity

Human personality describes the distinctive and persistent patterns of thoughts, emotions, and actions that occur across contexts and over time (Mischel, 2004). The influential Big Five model of personality suggests that individual variations in behavior can be described along five trait dimensions: neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness (McCrae & Costa, 1991). Of these traits, neuroticism and extraversion are the most widely studied dimensions (Kennis, Rademaker, & Geuze, 2013;McCrae&Costa, 1991), both describing individual differences in socioemotional functioning and susceptibility to affective disorders.

Neuroticism is linked to vulnerability to depression and anxiety (Bienvenu et al., 2001; Clark, Watson, & Mineka, 1994; Durrett & Trull, 2005), less favorable treatment outcomes in general (Geerts & Bouhuys, 1998), and a higher risk for comorbid psychiatric disorders (Khan, Jacobson, Gardner, Prescott, & Kendler, 2005). These negative consequences are hypothesized to originate from neuroticism's relationship with maladaptive cognitive and emotional functioning. This includes being extremely sensitive to negative social cues in the environment (McCrae & Costa, 1991), interpreting ambiguous social cues as threatening or negative (Bolger & Zuckerman, 1995), experiencing difficulties in affect regulation (Tamir, 2005), and demonstrating a more negative self-referential informationprocessing style (Trapnell & Campbell, 1999). In contrast, extraversion is linked to a higher propensity for experiencing positive emotional states (Larsen & Ketelaar, 1991) and decreased susceptibility to affective disorders (Kotov, Gamez, Schmidt, & Watson, 2010). This is thought to stem from extraversion's relationship with sensitivity to positive and rewarding cues in the environment (McCrae & Costa, 1991). Extraverts show a strong tendency to engage in rewarding social interactions, are enthusiastic and optimistic in general, and tend to be assertive and talkative in social situations. …

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