An fMRI study of personality influences on brain reactivity to emotional stimuli

Behav Neurosci. 2001 Feb;115(1):33-42. doi: 10.1037/0735-7044.115.1.33.


Functional imaging studies have examined which brain regions respond to emotional stimuli, but they have not determined how stable personality traits moderate such brain activation. Two personality traits, extraversion and neuroticism, are strongly associated with emotional experience and may thus moderate brain reactivity to emotional stimuli. The present study used functional magnetic resonance imaging to directly test whether individual differences in brain reactivity to emotional stimuli are correlated with extraversion and neuroticism in healthy women. Extraversion was correlated with brain reactivity to positive stimuli in localized brain regions, and neuroticism was correlated with brain reactivity to negative stimuli in localized brain regions. This study provides direct evidence that personality is associated with brain reactivity to emotional stimuli and identifies both common and distinct brain regions where such modulation takes place.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology*
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Personality Inventory
  • Personality*