Tag Archives: medial orbitofrontal cortex

Introversion and Extraversion Starts with Your Genes and Shows in Your Brain

Susan Cain

Susan Cain

Introverts seem to be experiencing an increasingly “level playing field” in work and social environments after Susan Cain’s best-selling book celebrating “the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking.”

Hans Eysenck

Hans Eysenck

University of London’s Hans Eysenck provided one of the first physiological explanations of this duality after Carl Jung’s introduction to “psychological types.”

The subjective experience of introversion and extraversion is measured by the Big Five personality dimensions, developed by Robert McRae and Paul Costa, then of the National Institutes of Health, in addition to the widely-used yet psychometrically-criticized Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. 

Eysenck's Three-Factor Theory of Personality

Eysenck’s Three-Factor Theory of Personality

Observable behaviors associated with extraversion include positive emotions, assertiveness, sociability and talkativeness with energetic engagement in work and social contexts.

In contrast, external manifestations of introversion are lower social engagement and energy, and less need for external social stimulation than extraverts, with a quieter, more deliberate style.

Robert McCrae

Robert McCrae

These behaviors are at least partially based on individuals’ genetic profiles, leading to differing brain activity associated with introverted and extraverted thinking and behavior.

Paul Costa

Paul Costa

Eysenck posited that extraverts and introverts differ in their levels of cortical arousal:  Introverts, he suggested, have a higher baseline level of arousal than extraverts, so need less external stimulation.

In contrast, he hypothesized that extraverts seek external stimulation because they have a lower baseline level of cortical arousal.

Yasuyuki Taki

Yasuyuki Taki

Differences in brain structure and function among introverts and extraverts was analyzed by Yasuyuki Taki’s team at Tohoku University, including collaborators  Benjamin Thyreau, Shigeo Kinomura, Kazunori Sato, Ryoi Goto, Kai Wu, Ryuta Kawashima, and Hiroshi Fukuda. 

The evaluated whether personality traits measured on a revised Big Five inventory (Revised NEO Personality Inventory – NEO-PI-R) were related cortical gray matter volume, measured by brain magnetic resonance images (MRI) for more than 270 healthy volunteers over 6 years.

Colin DeYoung

Colin DeYoung

Likewise, University of Minnesota’s Colin DeYoung, Jacob Hirsh of University of Toronto, The Mind Research Institute’s Matthew Shane, and Yale’s Xenophon Papademetris, Nallakkandi  Rajeevan, and Jeremy Gray used a similar method to conclude that behavioral and subjective extraversion was positively correlated with orbitofrontal cortex metabolism and increased cerebral volume of the medial orbitofrontal cortex in 116 adults. 

Michael X. Cohen

Michael X. Cohen

Extraversion has been correlated with sensitivity to rewards and to the brain’s dopamine system, so University of Amsterdam’s Michael X. Cohen and team investigated the brain’s dopamine-based reward system.

He collaborated with Jennifer Young, Jong-Min Baek, Christopher Kessler, and Charan Ranganath of University of California, Davis to demonstrate the connection among trait extraversion, the A1 allele on the dopamine D2 receptor gene, and “extraverted” activity in the brain’s reward system during a gambling task.

Charan Ranganath

Charan Ranganath

Participants received rewards either immediately following a behavioral response or after a 7.5 second “anticipation” interval.
The research team monitored differing fMRI brain activity in the amygdala, which processes emotional stimuli and triggers excitement, and in the nucleus accumbens, which pushes people to seek rewards, novelty and risks.

Brain activation patterns were related to individual differences in extraversion and presence of the A1 allele on the dopamine D2 receptor gene.
Neural pathways differed for extraverts and introverts, validating anecdotal observations that these personality styles are distinctly different, even deep inside the brain and genes.

Many introverts adopt extraverted behaviors in work and social situations, and a remaining question is how fMRI patterns differ for introverts displaying uncharacteristic extraverted behaviors in contrast to people with trait extraversion.

-*How easily can you adopt your non-dominant personality style when you need to display introversion or extraversion behaviors?

-*What tactics enable you to adopt your less-preferred personality style?

Please follow-share-like www.kathrynwelds.com and @kathrynwelds

RELATED POSTS:

Twitter:  @kathrynwelds
Blog: – Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary
Google+ google.com/+KathrynWelds
LinkedIn Open Group Psychology in Human Resources (Organisational Psychology)
Facebook Notes:

©Kathryn Welds

Compassion Training Surpasses Empathy Training to Reduce Stress

Susanne Leiberg

Susanne Leiberg

Compassion training has positive effects on mood and health, and University of Zurich’s Susanne Leiberg, Olga Klimecki, Tania Singer demonstrated that it can actually change the brain’s functioning, and related emotions and behaviors.

Olga Klimecki

Olga Klimecki

Klimecki, Leiberg, Singer, now at Max Planck Institute collaborated with Claus Lamm of University of Vienna to examine the impact of compassion training on brain activity in response to observing another person’s distress.

Tania Singer

Tania Singer

A frequent experience in daily life, most people experience distress, or empathy, when observing another’s distress, due to activation of the brain’s “mirror” neurons.

Claus Lamm

Claus Lamm

In contrast, compassion is concern with others’ suffering coupled with the desire to alleviate the other person’s pain, and can exist without actually experiencing the other persons’ distress through empathy.

The researchers evaluated whether personal distress be transformed into compassion, a useful coping strategy for those in health care professions, and in caretaking roles.
They developed the Socio-affective Video Task to measure neural and subjective responses to witnessing the distress of others.

Most volunteers experienced initial empathic negative feelings and activations in the brain’s pain empathy areas, the anterior insula and anterior medial cingulate cortex, when they observed the distress of others.
However, the volunteers who completed compassion training experienced less negative emotion, and more positive feelings when witnessing others in distress, related to increased activity in brain areas associated with positive emotion and affiliation:  the medial orbitofrontal cortex, putamen, pallidum, and ventral tegmental area.

In contrast, control group volunteers who received memory training did not have more positive emotions, and participants in empathy training actually experienced more negative feelings.

The studies suggest that compassion training can be an effective coping strategy when observing or supporting others in distress, and the mental discipline of compassion training can increase positive emotion more effectively than memory training or empathy training.

Besides changing the brain and related feelings, compassion training triggered more “prosocial” behavior, including helping and cooperating.

This researcher team developed the Zurich Prosocial Game (ZPG) to validly assess helping behaviors in light of reciprocity, helping cost, and distress cues influences.
Volunteers who had received short-term compassion training increased their helping behaviors in the game, but this was not true for volunteers who received short-term memory training.

Charles Raison

Charles Raison

Emory University’s Charles Raison advocated compassion training as a better day to deal with “enemies,” whether globally or interpersonally.
He collaborated with Emory colleagues including Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, who developed Cognitive-Based Compassion Training (CBCT) and Sheetal Reddy of Atlanta’s Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, to evaluate the impact of compassion training with youth in foster care.

Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi

Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi

The team considered whether these participants, who had suffered maltreatment, experienced improved psychosocial functioning after twice-weekly Cognitive-Based Compassion Training (CBCT) for six weeks compared with young people assigned to the “wait-list-no treatment” group.

Researchers found no difference in measured functioning, but young people who practiced compassion more frequently reported greater hopefulness and ability to deal with life stressors, and decreased generalized anxiety.

These findings suggest that compassion training can improve stress management, mood, and cooperation.

-*How have you seen compassion training affect feelings and behaviors?

RELATED POSTS:

Twitter:  @kathrynwelds
Blog: – Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary 
Google+:
LinkedIn Open Group Psychology in Human Resources (Organisational Psychology)
Facebook Notes:

©Kathryn Welds