Gray and white matter correlates of the Big Five personality traits
Abstract Personality neuroscience defines the scientific study of the neurobiological basis of personality. This field assumes that individual differences in personality traits are related with structural and functional variations of the human brain. Gray and white matters are structural properties considered separately in previous research. Available findings in this regard are largely disparate. Here we analyze the relationships between gray matter (cortical thickness (CT), cortical surface area (CSA), and cortical volume) and integrity scores obtained after several white matter tracts connecting different brain regions, with individual differences in the personality traits comprised by the Five-Factor Model (extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience). These psychological and biological data were obtained from young healthy women. The main findings showed statistically significant associations between occipital CSA variations and extraversion, as well as between parietal CT variations and neuroticism. Regarding white matter integrity, openness showed positive correlations with tracts connecting posterior and anterior brain regions. Therefore, variations in discrete gray matter clusters were associated with temperamental traits (extraversion and neuroticism), whereas long-distance structural connections were related with the dimension of personality that has been associated with high-level cognitive processes (openness).