Linking novelty seeking and harm avoidance personality traits to cerebellar volumes



Personality traits are multidimensional traits comprising cognitive, emotional, and behavioral characteristics, and a wide array of cerebral structures mediate individual variability. Differences in personality traits covary with brain morphometry in specific brain regions, and neuroimaging studies showed structural or functional abnormalities of cerebellum in subjects with personality disorders, suggesting a cerebellar role in affective processing and an effect on personality characteristics. To test the hypothesis that cerebellar [white matter (WM) and cortex] volumes are correlated with scores obtained in the four temperamental scales of the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI) by Cloninger, a total of 125 healthy participants aged 18–67 years of both genders (males = 52) completed the TCI and underwent magnetic resonance imaging. The scores obtained in each temperamental scale were associated with the volumes of cerebellar WM and cortex of right and left hemispheres separately by using linear regression analyses. In line with our hypothesis, novelty seeking (NS) scores were positively associated with WM and cortex cerebellar volumes. Harm avoidance (HA) scores were negatively associated with WM and cortex cerebellar volumes. The range of individual differences in NS and HA scores reflects the range of variances of cerebellar volumes. The present data indicating a cerebellar substrate for some personality traits extend the relationship between personality and brain areas to a structure up to now thought to be involved mainly in motor and cognitive functions, much less in emotional processes and even less in personality individual differences. Hum Brain Mapp 35:285–296, 2014. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.