Sunday, February 26, 2012

Do people with different personalities have different brains?

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Although science is a long way from connecting every human trait to a telltale wrinkle in brain tissue, researchers have discovered fascinating links between brain structure and the ways different people behave. The British psychologist Hans Eysenck has proposed that a key to the difference between the extroverted and introverted personality - one outgoing, the other reserved - lies in the cerebral cortex, a part of the brain much involved in learning, reasoning, and planning. Activity here can be viewed in brain scans. In the extrovert, the cortex is quiet and seems to welcome noisy, exciting situations that arouse it. The introvert's level of cortical arousal, in contrast, is already high, so the introverted personality does not need much outside stimulation and seems to prefer peace and quiet.

Some support for Eysenck's theory can be found in our daily experience. Extroverts can fall asleep quickly and introverts can't, suggesting that the extrovert's cortex slips easily into a quiet state. Furthermore, the fact that extroverts tend to be less sensitive to pain seems to indicate that their cerebral cortexes are harder to arouse.

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