Humans are social animals. But researchers at Cambridge University
wanted to know why some of us are more "people persons" than others.
They used MRI to scan the brains of 41 males who'd completed a
questionnaire designed to measure their emotional warmth and
sociability. Those who were most social had greater concentrations of
grey matter (brain-cell containing tissue) in the orbitofrontal cortex
(the outer strip of the brain just above the eyes) and in the ventral
striatum (located in the center of the brain).
It’s not clear that anatomical differences are a cause,
rather than an effect, of social interactions. But the team concluded that some brains are simply better equipped to enjoy the
company of others.
has shown that both areas play an important role in processing simple
rewards such as sweet tastes or sexual stimuli.
that the degree to which we find social interaction rewarding relates
to the structure of our brains in regions that are important for simple
biological drives such as foods, sweet liquids and sex. Perhaps this
gives us a clue to how complex features like sentimentality and
affection evolved from structures that in lower animals originally were
only important for basic biological survival processes," research
leader Dr. Graham Murray, of the University of Cambridge in England,
said in a Cambridge University news release.
"Sociability and emotional
warmth are very complex features of our personality. This research
helps us understand at a biological level why people differ in the
degrees to which we express those traits," he said. However, Murray
noted that this research is "only correlational and cross-sectional"
and "cannot prove that brain structure determines personality. It could
even be that your personality, through experience, helps in part to
determine your brain structure."
The study appears in the European Journal of Neuroscience.
Edited by SamoneLenior - Feb 05 2013 at 11:42am