Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Is Donald Trump's frontostriatal connectivity weakened?

Chester et al. find an interesting correlation between grandiose narcissism and the strength of connections between brain areas that process self-relevant stimuli (the medial prefrontal cortex) and reward (the ventral striatum):
Narcissism is characterized by the search for affirmation and admiration from others. Might this motivation to find external sources of acclaim exist to compensate for neurostructural deficits that link the self with reward? Greater structural connectivity between brain areas that process self-relevant stimuli (i.e. the medial prefrontal cortex) and reward (i.e. the ventral striatum) is associated with fundamentally positive self-views. We predicted that narcissism would be associated with less integrity of this frontostriatal pathway. We used diffusion tensor imaging to assess the frontostriatal structural connectivity among 50 healthy undergraduates (32 females, 18 males) who also completed a measure of grandiose narcissism. White matter integrity in the frontostriatal pathway was negatively associated with narcissism. Our findings, while purely correlational, suggest that narcissism arises, in part, from a neural disconnect between the self and reward. The exhibitionism and immodesty of narcissists may then be a regulatory strategy to compensate for this neural deficit.


  1. Interesting post, Deric, once again and thanks. I do think, however, that the Trump reference needs a bit of tweaking: I pose that Trump's self absorption (pathological narcissism, if you will - to sojourn into the clinical) is a mere symptom of his real (ahem) primary characteristic. He is a textbook sociopath - right out of any version of the DSMs. This makes him extraordinarily dangerous and we must do anything possible to not allow his candidacy to devolve into the Presidency of the good old USofA. Thanks again, Deric.

  2. Very interesting!

  3. Anonymous9:44 AM

    Here's a link to a ranking of former US presidents based on scores of "grandiose narcissism" from a study published in Psychological Science:

    I'd be willing to bet that some of your (and Myrna's) most beloved presidents are in the top 10 (FDR, Kennedy, Clinton, etc).

    1. Right...I did a post on that study, see