Can shape of brain tell the personality traits?

You might be wondering “how can the brain tell a person’s personality traits?”, but absolutely it can. A few researchers looked at the thickness, area, and amount of folding in the cortex to understand the correlation between the shape of the Brian and personality traits.

The shape of our brain can predict personality traits such as altruism, openness and conscientiousness, as well as our risk of developing mental health disorders.

They looked at differences in the structure of the outer layer of the brain as indexed by three measures – the thickness, area, and amount of folding in the cortex – and how these measures related to the Big Five personality traits.

Human personality can be broken down into ‘Big Five’ personality traits: neuroticism (how moody a person is), extraversion (how enthusiastic a person is), agreeableness (a measure of altruism), openness (how open-minded a person is) and conscientiousness (a measure of self-control).

Evolution has shaped our brain anatomy in a way that maximizes its area and folding at the expense of reduced thickness of the cortex, it’s like stretching and folding a rubber sheet – this increases the surface area, but at the same time the sheet itself becomes thinner refers to Cortical Stretching.

This same process occurs as we develop and grow in the womb and throughout childhood, adolescence, and into adulthood: the thickness of the cortex tends to decrease while the area and folding increase, said experts.

As we get older, neuroticism goes down – we become better at handling emotions – but conscientiousness and agreeableness go up – we become more responsible and less antagonistic.

Researchers found that high levels of neuroticism, which may predispose people to develop neuropsychiatric disorders, were associated with increased thickness as well as reduced area and folding in some regions of the cortex such as the prefrontal-temporal cortices at the front of the brain.

Openness, a personality trait linked with curiosity, creativity and a preference for variety and novelty, was associated with the opposite pattern, reduced thickness and an increase in area and folding in some prefrontal cortices.

The fact that we see clear differences in brain structure which are linked with differences in personality traits suggests that there will almost certainly be an element of genetics involved.