Connectomics and neuroticism: an altered functional network organization

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2015 Jan;40(2):296-304. doi: 10.1038/npp.2014.169. Epub 2014 Jul 9.


The personality trait neuroticism is a potent risk marker for psychopathology. Although the neurobiological basis remains unclear, studies have suggested that alterations in connectivity may underlie it. Therefore, the aim of the current study was to shed more light on the functional network organization in neuroticism. To this end, we applied graph theory on resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data in 120 women selected based on their neuroticism score. Binary and weighted brain-wide graphs were constructed to examine changes in the functional network structure and functional connectivity strength. Furthermore, graphs were partitioned into modules to specifically investigate connectivity within and between functional subnetworks related to emotion processing and cognitive control. Subsequently, complex network measures (ie, efficiency and modularity) were calculated on the brain-wide graphs and modules, and correlated with neuroticism scores. Compared with low neurotic individuals, high neurotic individuals exhibited a whole-brain network structure resembling more that of a random network and had overall weaker functional connections. Furthermore, in these high neurotic individuals, functional subnetworks could be delineated less clearly and the majority of these subnetworks showed lower efficiency, while the affective subnetwork showed higher efficiency. In addition, the cingulo-operculum subnetwork demonstrated more ties with other functional subnetworks in association with neuroticism. In conclusion, the 'neurotic brain' has a less than optimal functional network organization and shows signs of functional disconnectivity. Moreover, in high compared with low neurotic individuals, emotion and salience subnetworks have a more prominent role in the information exchange, while sensory(-motor) and cognitive control subnetworks have a less prominent role.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Connectome*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology
  • Neuroticism
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Young Adult