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Schultz, C. Christoph; Warziniak, Heide; Koch, Kathrin; Schachtzabel, Claudia; Güllmar, Daniel; Reichenbach, Jürgen R.; Schlösser, Ralf G.; Sauer, Heinrich and Wagner, Gerd (2017): High levels of neuroticism are associated with decreased cortical folding of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. In: European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, Vol. 267, No. 6: pp. 579-584

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The personality trait neuroticism has been identified as a vulnerability factor for common psychiatric diseases and defining potential neuroanatomical markers for early recognition and prevention strategies is mandatory. Because both personality traits and cortical folding patterns are early imprinted and timely stable there is reason to hypothesize an association between neuroticism and cortical folding. Thus, to identify a putative linkage, we tested whether the degree of neuroticism is associated with local cortical folding in a sample of 109 healthy individuals using a surface-based MRI approach. Based on previous findings we additionally tested for a potential association with cortical thickness. We found a highly significant negative correlation between the degree of neuroticism and local cortical folding of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), i.e., high levels of neuroticism were associated with low cortical folding of the left DLPFC. No association was found with cortical thickness. The present study is the first to describe a linkage between the extent of local cortical folding and the individual degree of neuroticism in healthy subjects. Because neuroticism is a vulnerability factor for common psychiatric diseases such as depression our finding indicates that alterations of DLPFC might constitute a neurobiological marker elevating risk for psychiatric burden.

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