Neuroanatomical correlates of personality in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes): Associations between personality and frontal cortex

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Abstract

Converging empirical data suggests that a set of largely consistent personality traits exist in both human and nonhuman primates; despite these similarities, almost nothing is known concerning the neurobiological basis of these traits in nonhuman primates. The current study examined associations between chimpanzee personality traits and the grey matter volume and asymmetry of various frontal cortex regions in 107 captive chimpanzees. Chimpanzees rated as higher on Openness and Extraversion had greater bilateral grey matter volumes in the anterior cingulate cortex. Further, chimpanzee rated as higher on Dominance had larger grey volumes in the left anterior cingulate cortex and right Prefrontal Cortex (PFC). Finally, apes rated higher on Reactivity/Unpredictability had higher grey matter volumes in the right mesial PFC. All associations survived after applying False Discovery Rate (FDR) thresholds. Results are discussed in terms of current neuroscientific models of personality which suggest that the frontal cortex, and asymmetries in this region, play an important role in the neurobiological foundation of broad dispositional traits.

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