Inward versus reward: white matter pathways in extraversion

Personal Neurosci. 2019 Sep 16;2:e6. doi: 10.1017/pen.2019.6. eCollection 2019.


The trait of extraversion is one of the longest-standing domains that captures the social dimension of personality and can potentially explain the covariation of a wide variety of behaviors. To date, there is a growing recognition that human behavior should be specified not only through the psychological mechanisms underlying each trait but also through their underlying neurobehavioral systems. While imaging studies have revealed important initial insights into the structural and functional neural correlates of extraversion, current knowledge about the relationships between extraversion and brain structures is still rather limited, especially with regard to the relationship between extraversion and white matter (WM). In this study, we aimed to investigate WM microstructure in extraversion in greater depth. Thirty-five healthy volunteers (21 women; mean age 35) underwent magnetic resonance imaging, as a part of a larger project aimed at investigating the longitudinal effect of motor training. WM integrity was assessed using the diffusion tensor imaging technique combining multiple diffusion tensor measures. Extraversion was assessed by the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire-Revised. Voxelwise correlation analyses between fractional anisotropy, axial diffusivities, and radial diffusivities maps and extraversion score showed decreased connectivity in the right inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus and forceps major among individuals who had high extraversion ratings. In conclusion, individual differences in extraversion may reflect differential organization of the WM tracts connecting frontal cortex, temporal, and occipital areas, which are related to socioemotional and control functions.

Keywords: diffusion tensor imaging; extraversion; inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus (IFOF); personality; white matter integrity.