Turns out, you didn’t get that open-mindedness from your mama, you got it from your brain shape.
New research published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience suggests that brain shape can say a lot about someone’s personality traits, giving us a glimpse into human behaviour and even the likelihood of developing certain mental health disorders.
The study looked at different thicknesses of the cortex (that wavy outside part of the brain we call grey matter) in brain scans from over 500 people between the ages of 22 and 36. Researchers uncovered a strong connection between brain structure and the “big five” personality types, which include agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, open-mindedness and neuroticism.
“Linking how brain structure is related to basic personality traits is a crucial step to improving our understanding of the link between the brain morphology and particular mood, cognitive or behavioural disorders,” said study co-author Dr. Luca Passamonti from the University of Cambridge.
Neuroticism, which is a trait that’s often connected with mental illness, was linked to a thicker cortex that had less wrinkling in certain areas, while openness was tied to a thinner cortex and more wrinkling.
“It may give us the opportunity to detect those who are at high risk of developing mental illnesses early, which has obvious implications for prompt intervention,” said study co-author Roberta Riccelli.
However, it’s still unclear if brain shape and subsequent personality traits are formed by a person’s genes, or by their upbringing.
Researchers also found that as we age, our brains — along with all of those folds — change too. Neuroticism decreases, we get less grumpy and we become more agreeable and conscientious.
Finally, some wrinkles we’re looking forward to getting some more of.