Extroverts may be more outgoing and cheerful in part because of their brain chemistry, reports a study by Cornell neuroscientists.
People’s brains respond differently to rewards, say the neuroscientists. Some people’s brains release more of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which ultimately gives them more reasons to be excited and engaged with the world, says Richard Depue, professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology, who co-authored the study with graduate student Yu Fu.
“At a broader level, the study begins to illuminate how individual differences in brain functioning interact with environmental influences to create behavioral variation. This knowledge may someday help us to understand how such interactions create more extreme forms of emotional behavior, such as personality disorders,” says Depue.
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Their study, published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience (Vol. 7) in June, sheds new light on how differences in the way the brain responds to reward translate into extraverted behavior, the authors say.
“Rewards like food, sex and social interactions as well as more abstract goals such as money or getting a degree trigger the release of dopamine in the brain, producing positive emotions and feelings of desire that motivate us to work toward obtaining those goals. In extroverts, this dopamine response to rewards is more robust so they experience more frequent activation of strong positive emotions,” Depue says.
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