Neuroscience provides a chemical explanation for why some people are extroverted — seeking constant company, novelty, and thrills — while others prefer solitude, routine, and serious talk. It seems the personality difference has to do with how our brains react to reward, as was demonstrated in a gambling experiment at the University of Amsterdam. When extroverts took risks that paid off, they showed a stronger response in two brain regions: the amygdala and the nucleus accumbens. “The amygdala is known for processing emotional stimuli, and the nucleus accumbens is a key part of the brain’s reward circuitry and part of the dopamine system.”
What’s the Big Idea?
The term “extrovert” was introduced to the psychological lexicon at the beginning of the 20th century by the influential psychologist Carl Jung, who saw a certain personality type more befitting roles of power and influence. Then in the 1960s, “psychologist Hans Eysenck made the influential proposal that extroverts were defined by having a chronically lower level of arousal.” Today neuroscientists believe that extroverts’ brains react more strongly to certain activities. “Obviously they are going to enjoy adventure sports more, or social adventures like meeting new people more. Part of this difference is genetic, resulting from the way our genes shape and develop our brains.”