'Wiring' in the brain influences personality

November 23, 2008

Have you got the new iPhone yet? Do you like changing jobs now and again because you get bored otherwise? Do you go on holiday to different places every year? Then maybe your neural connection between ventral striatum and hippocampus is particularly well developed. Both of them are centres in the brain. The reward system which urges us to take action is located in the striatum, whereas the hippocampus is responsible for specific memory functions.

In innovation-oriented people, both of these centres apparently interact particularly well. At least this is the supposition of the scientists from Bonn, Michael X. Cohen and Dr. Bernd Weber. If the hippocampus identifies an experience as new, it then sends the correspond-ing feedback to the striatum. There certain neurotransmitters are then released which lead to positive feelings. With people who constantly seek new experiences, striatum and hippocampus are evidently wired particularly well. The two researchers were able to show this in the survey now being published.

Method revolutionises the exploration of the brain

Up to now, it has been extremely difficult to make the individual 'wiring' of the brain visible. 'In principle this was only possible using cross sections of the brain of deceased people, which in addition had to be stained in a complex process,' Dr. Weber explains. Thanks to a new method this is now a lot easier. With modern MRI you can actually determine in which directions the water in the tissue diffuses. Nerve fibres are an impenetrable obstacle for tissue fluid. It can only flow along them. These 'directional' streams of water are visible in the tomography image. 'With this hazard-free method we can work on completely new issues related to the function of the brain,' Cohen says enthusiastically.

In the current study the Bonn scientists focused on the 'wiring' of the striatum. Moreover, the test candidates had to choose descriptions that characterised their personality best from a questionnaire, e.g. 'I like to try out new things just for fun or because it's a challenge' or alternatively 'I prefer to stay at home rather than travelling or investigating new things.'

By contrast, descriptions such as 'I want to please other people as much as possible' or 'I don't care whether other people like me or the way I do things', were about social accept-ance. Here too the researchers noticed a link. 'The stronger the connection between frontal lobe and ventral striatum, the more distinctive the desire for recognition by that person's environment,' Weber says. That is not quite unexpected. For example, it is known that people with defects of the frontal lobe violate social norms more frequently.

The Bonn scientists wish to confirm their results even more. In experiments they would like to investigate whether people actually behave differently depending on the 'wiring' of their brain.

Source: University of Bonn

Explore further: More sophisticated wiring, not just bigger brain, helped humans evolve beyond chimps

Related Stories

More sophisticated wiring, not just bigger brain, helped humans evolve beyond chimps

August 22, 2012
Human and chimp brains look anatomically similar because both evolved from the same ancestor millions of years ago. But where does the chimp brain end and the human brain begin?

Recommended for you

Researchers discover key signaling protein for muscle growth

November 20, 2017
Researchers at the University of Louisville have discovered the importance of a well-known protein, myeloid differentiation primary response gene 88 (MyD88), in the development and regeneration of muscles. Ashok Kumar, Ph.D., ...

New breast cell types discovered by multidisciplinary research team

November 20, 2017
A joint effort by breast cancer researchers and bioinformaticians has provided new insights into the molecular changes that drive breast development.

Brain cell advance brings hope for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

November 20, 2017
Scientists have developed a new system to study Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in the laboratory, paving the way for research to find treatments for the fatal brain disorder.

Hibernating ground squirrels provide clues to new stroke treatments

November 17, 2017
In the fight against brain damage caused by stroke, researchers have turned to an unlikely source of inspiration: hibernating ground squirrels.

Molecular guardian defends cells, organs against excess cholesterol

November 16, 2017
A team of researchers at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health has illuminated a critical player in cholesterol metabolism that acts as a molecular guardian in cells to help maintain cholesterol levels within a safe, ...

Prototype ear plug sensor could improve monitoring of vital signs

November 16, 2017
Scientists have developed a sensor that fits in the ear, with the aim of monitoring the heart, brain and lungs functions for health and fitness.

4 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

tkjtkj
not rated yet Nov 23, 2008
Why the average of:
5 plus 0 != 2.5 :

If 1 of 2 users rates an article
as 0, and the other as 5 , I
suggest that the result of 2.5
is not true. If they had each
the article as 2.5, that's one
thing... BUT the fact that in the
first case a user managed to see
something unique, artful, of
special significance, enough to
give a 5 suggests that the article
in question is much more likely to
be more valuable.
.
(BTW, why didnt this comment field
accept the 'plus' sign in my first
line? i was forced to use the word
"plus" .. )
earls
not rated yet Nov 23, 2008
As much as I love Physorg, the article comment system is exceptionally pathetic. I fail to understand why it has yet to be upgraded or improved.
Towchain
5 / 5 (1) Nov 24, 2008
My rating system goes to 11.
ClownSoup
not rated yet Nov 25, 2008
@tkjtkj - because 5 plus 5 plus 0 = 10 / 3 = average

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.