Researchers posit that an individual’s personality may be based upon how their brain is wired.
Studies by University of Bonn scientists suggest the neural connection between areas of the brain is particularly well-developed among innovative people.
The reward system which urges us to take action is located in the brain region called the striatum, whereas the hippocampus is responsible for specific memory functions.
Scientists Michael X. Cohen and Dr. Bernd Weber believe if the hippocampus identifies an experience as new, it then sends the corresponding 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.
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 process is now a lot easier. With modern MRI scanning techniques, researchers can actually determine in which directions the water in the tissue diffuses. Nerve fibers 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 notes.
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