Neuroanatomical correlates of personality traits in temporal lobe epilepsy: findings from the Epilepsy Connectome Project


Neuroscience Innovation Institute, Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center


Behavioral and personality disorders in temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) have been a topic of interest and controversy for decades, with less attention paid to alterations in normal personality structure and traits. In this investigation, core personality traits (the Big 5) and their neurobiological correlates in TLE were explored using the Neuroticism Extraversion Openness-Five Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) and structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) through the Epilepsy Connectome Project (ECP). NEO-FFI scores from 67 individuals with TLE (34.6 ± 9.5 years; 67% women) were compared to 31 healthy controls (32.8 ± 8.9 years; 41% women) to assess differences in the Big 5 traits (agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and extraversion). Individuals with TLE showed significantly higher neuroticism, with no significant differences on the other traits. Neural correlates of neuroticism were then determined in participants with TLE including cortical and subcortical volumes. Distributed reductions in cortical gray matter volumes were associated with increased neuroticism. Subcortically, hippocampal and amygdala volumes were negatively associated with neuroticism. These results offer insight into alterations in the Big 5 personality traits in TLE and their brain-related correlates.

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