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Resting-state functional brain connectivity best predicts the personality dimension of openness to experience

Dubois, Julien and Galdi, Paola and Han, Yanting and Paul, Lynn K. and Adolphs, Ralph (2018) Resting-state functional brain connectivity best predicts the personality dimension of openness to experience. Personality Neuroscience, 1 . Art. No. e6. ISSN 2513-9886. PMCID PMC6138449.

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Personality neuroscience aims to find associations between brain measures and personality traits. Findings to date have been severely limited by a number of factors, including small sample size and omission of out-of-sample prediction. We capitalized on the recent availability of a large database, together with the emergence of specific criteria for best practices in neuroimaging studies of individual differences. We analyzed resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data from 884 young healthy adults in the Human Connectome Project database. We attempted to predict personality traits from the “Big Five,” as assessed with the Neuroticism/Extraversion/Openness Five-Factor Inventory test, using individual functional connectivity matrices. After regressing out potential confounds (such as age, sex, handedness, and fluid intelligence), we used a cross-validated framework, together with test-retest replication (across two sessions of resting-state fMRI for each subject), to quantify how well the neuroimaging data could predict each of the five personality factors. We tested three different (published) denoising strategies for the fMRI data, two intersubject alignment and brain parcellation schemes, and three different linear models for prediction. As measurement noise is known to moderate statistical relationships, we performed final prediction analyses using average connectivity across both imaging sessions (1 hr of data), with the analysis pipeline that yielded the highest predictability overall. Across all results (test/retest; three denoising strategies; two alignment schemes; three models), Openness to experience emerged as the only reliably predicted personality factor. Using the full hour of resting-state data and the best pipeline, we could predict Openness to experience (NEOFAC_O: r=.24, R^2=.024) almost as well as we could predict the score on a 24-item intelligence test (PMAT24_A_CR: r=.26, R^2=.044). Other factors (Extraversion, Neuroticism, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness) yielded weaker predictions across results that were not statistically significant under permutation testing. We also derived two superordinate personality factors (“α” and “β”) from a principal components analysis of the Neuroticism/Extraversion/Openness Five-Factor Inventory factor scores, thereby reducing noise and enhancing the precision of these measures of personality. We could account for 5% of the variance in the β superordinate factor (r=.27, R^2=.050), which loads highly on Openness to experience. We conclude with a discussion of the potential for predicting personality from neuroimaging data and make specific recommendations for the field.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper CentralArticle
Dubois, Julien0000-0002-3029-173X
Galdi, Paola0000-0003-4556-6799
Paul, Lynn K.0000-0002-3128-8313
Adolphs, Ralph0000-0002-8053-9692
Additional Information:© The Author(s) 2018. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Accepted: 5 March 2018; Published online: 05 July 2018. This work was supported by NIMH grant 2P50MH094258 (R.A.), the Carver Mead Seed Fund (R.A.), and a NARSAD Young Investigator Grant from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation (J.D.). The authors have nothing to disclose. Authors’ contributions: J.D. and P.G. developed the overall general analysis framework and conducted some of the initial analyses for the paper. J.D. conducted all final analyses and produced all figures. Y.H. helped with literature search and analysis of behavioral data. L.P. helped with literature search, analysis of behavioral data, and interpretation of the results. J.D. and R.A. wrote the initial manuscript and all authors contributed to the final manuscript. All authors contributed to planning and discussion on this project. Supplementary Material: To view supplementary material for this article, please visit The Young Adult HCP dataset is publicly available at Analysis scripts are available in the following public repository:
Group:Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Carver Mead Seed FundUNSPECIFIED
Brain and Behavior Research FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:resting-state fMRI; functional connectivity; prediction; individual differences; personality; Personality disorders; Cognition; MRI; Functional; Resting state
PubMed Central ID:PMC6138449
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20180620-141439729
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Dubois, J., Galdi, P., Han, Y., Paul, L., & Adolphs, R. (2018). Resting-State Functional Brain Connectivity Best Predicts the Personality Dimension of Openness to Experience. Personality Neuroscience, 1, E6. doi:10.1017/pen.2018.8
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:87271
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:20 Jun 2018 21:47
Last Modified:24 Feb 2021 18:54

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