To investigate whether personality traits affect the rate of decline of gray matter volume, we analyzed the relationships between personality traits and the annual rate of changes of gray matter volume in 274 healthy community dwelling subjects with a large age range by applying a longitudinal design over 6 years, using brain magnetic resonance images (MRI) and the Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) at baseline. Brain MRI data were processed using voxel-based morphometry with a custom template by applying the DARTEL diffeomorphic registration tool. For each subject, we used NEO-PI-R to evaluate the five major personality traits, including neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. The results show that the annual rate of change in regional gray matter volume in the right inferior parietal lobule was correlated significantly and negatively with a personality of openness, which is known to be related to intellect, intellectual curiosity, and creativity adjusting for age, gender, and intracranial volume. This result indicates that subjects with a personality trait of less openness have an accelerated loss of gray matter volume in the right inferior parietal lobule, compared with subjects with a personality trait of more openness. Because the right inferior parietal lobule is involved in higher cognitive function such as working memory and creativity, a personality trait of openness is thought to be important for preserving gray matter volume and cognitive function of the right inferior parietal lobule in healthy adults.
Keywords: NEO-PI-R; big five; gray matter; longitudinal; magnetic resonance imaging; personality; voxel-based morphometry.
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