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.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Clinical Neurology