Relationship between regional brain responses to infant faces and personality traits in young female adults

[Speaker] Niwano, Katsuko:1
[Co-author] Ito, Ayahito:1, Tanabe, Motoko:1, Sato, Yosuke:1, Fujii, Toshikatsu:1
1:Tohoku Fukushi University (Japan)

Facial expression of infants is an important cue to elicit nursing behavior from caregivers. Recent fMRI studies have demonstrated that differences in sex and parental status have an influence on brain responses to infant stimuli. In the present study, we used fMRI to scan 46 healthy nulliparous female volunteers (age M = 20.1, SD = 0.3). During the fMRI scanning, photographs of infant faces (happy, sad, and neutral) were presented to the participants in a randomized order. We also assessed their personality traits using several psychological measures. During the viewing of infants' sad and neutral faces, a significant negative correlation was found between Conscientiousness, one of the Big Five personality traits, and the activation of various brain regions that are thought to be involved in the processing of reward and empathy: right nucleus accumbens, bilateral orbitofrontal cortex, and bilateral ventromedial prefrontal cortex.
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