Associations between anterior cingulate cortex glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid concentrations and the harm avoidance temperament

Neurosci Lett. 2009 Oct 23;464(2):103-7. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2009.07.087. Epub 2009 Aug 4.


Converging lines of evidence have suggested that the personality traits might have neurobiological underpinnings. The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) has been implicated to play an important role in the human fear and anxiety. Functional and structural characteristics of ACC have been suggested to be associated with the harm avoidance (HA) temperament, one of the important temperament dimensions. Therefore, we aimed to investigate correlations between neurometabolite concentrations in ACC, specifically glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which are major excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters, respectively, and HA scores. Neurometabolite concentrations were measured using high resolution single voxel proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy ((1)H-MRS), and the HA temperament was evaluated using the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI). Correlations between HA scores from 37 participants (21 men/16 women, age of 30.3+/-7.0) and glutamate and GABA concentrations in the mid-ACC region were evaluated. HA scores correlated negatively with glutamate concentrations in ACC (partial correlation, R=-0.54, df=33, P=0.001) and positively with GABA concentrations in ACC (partial correlation, R=0.48, df=30, P=0.005). These findings suggest that glutamate and GABA concentrations in ACC are closely related to levels of the HA temperament in healthy subjects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Avoidance Learning / physiology*
  • Female
  • Glutamic Acid / analysis*
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology*
  • Harm Reduction / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Temperament / physiology*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / analysis*


  • Glutamic Acid
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid