Humans display a wide array of social personality traits that are often prominently affected by psychiatric disorders. The cortical network properties of these traits and their dysfunctions remain largely unknown.
We evaluated the personality traits of 35 participants undergoing depth electrode investigation for medically refractory epilepsy at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital. Multi-dimensional personality traits were constructed using Baron-Cohen’s Autistic Spectrum Quotient (AQ), Empathy Quotient (EQ), and Systemizing Quotient-Revised (SQ-R). Stereoelectroencephalography (SEEG) recordings from 23 of these participants with adequate resting state recordings were analyzed and correlated with these traits.
Power spectrum analysis of resting state data revealed beta frequency differences in frontal lobe, theta frequency differences in amygdala, and alpha frequency differences in hippocampus and parietal lobe between high-AQ (defined as AQ score >31) and low-AQ-scoring patients, as well as theta and alpha frequency differences in hippocampus and alpha frequency differences in parietal lobe between extreme-systemizing (D=top 2.5%) and average-systemizing and average-empathizing patients.
We conclude that certain social personality traits correlate strongly with resting state activity patterns in frontal lobe, amygdala, hippocampus, and parietal lobes, and that these areas could serve as biomarkers or potential targets for the treatment of psychosocial disorders.