Personality and complex brain networks: The role of openness to experience in default network efficiency

Roger E. Beaty, Scott Barry Kaufman, Mathias Benedek, Rex E. Jung, Yoed N. Kenett, Emanuel Jauk, Aljoscha C. Neubauer, Paul J. Silvia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


The brain's default network (DN) has been a topic of considerable empirical interest. In fMRI research, DN activity is associated with spontaneous and self-generated cognition, such as mind-wandering, episodic memory retrieval, future thinking, mental simulation, theory of mind reasoning, and creative cognition. Despite large literatures on developmental and disease-related influences on the DN, surprisingly little is known about the factors that impact normal variation in DN functioning. Using structural equation modeling and graph theoretical analysis of resting-state fMRI data, we provide evidence that Openness to Experience-a normally distributed personality trait reflecting a tendency to engage in imaginative, creative, and abstract cognitive processes-underlies efficiency of information processing within the DN. Across two studies, Openness predicted the global efficiency of a functional network comprised of DN nodes and corresponding edges. In Study 2, Openness remained a robust predictor-even after controlling for intelligence, age, gender, and other personality variables-explaining 18% of the variance in DN functioning. These findings point to a biological basis of Openness to Experience, and suggest that normally distributed personality traits affect the intrinsic architecture of large-scale brain systems. Hum Brain Mapp 37:773-779, 2016.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)773-779
Number of pages7
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anatomy
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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