Impact of personality on the cerebral processing of emotional prosody.

Research paper by Carolin C Brück, Benjamin B Kreifelts, Evangelia E Kaza, Martin M Lotze, Dirk D Wildgruber

Indexed on: 22 Jun '11Published on: 22 Jun '11Published in: NeuroImage


While several studies have focused on identifying common brain mechanisms governing the decoding of emotional speech melody, interindividual variations in the cerebral processing of prosodic information, in comparison, have received only little attention to date: Albeit, for instance, differences in personality among individuals have been shown to modulate emotional brain responses, personality influences on the neural basis of prosody decoding have not been investigated systematically yet. Thus, the present study aimed at delineating relationships between interindividual differences in personality and hemodynamic responses evoked by emotional speech melody. To determine personality-dependent modulations of brain reactivity, fMRI activation patterns during the processing of emotional speech cues were acquired from 24 healthy volunteers and subsequently correlated with individual trait measures of extraversion and neuroticism obtained for each participant. Whereas correlation analysis did not indicate any link between brain activation and extraversion, strong positive correlations between measures of neuroticism and hemodynamic responses of the right amygdala, the left postcentral gyrus as well as medial frontal structures including the right anterior cingulate cortex emerged, suggesting that brain mechanisms mediating the decoding of emotional speech melody may vary depending on differences in neuroticism among individuals. Observed trait-specific modulations are discussed in the light of processing biases as well as differences in emotion control or task strategies which may be associated with the personality trait of neuroticism.