Friday, May 29, 2020

Brain connectivity fingerprinting of complex human personality traits - another tool for the surveillance state?

A group of researchers in the Department of Radiology, Anhui Medical University, Hefei, China, find that resting-state functional connectivity patterns of whole-brain large-scale networks can effectively and reliably predict complex human personality traits, including agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness and neuroticism, at the individual level. Fascinating work, but one wonders whether this might become yet another tool that might be used by a government to assess its citizens? :
Neuroimaging studies have linked inter-individual variability in the brain to individualized personality traits. However, only one or several aspects of personality have been effectively predicted based on brain imaging features. The objective of this study was to construct a reliable prediction model of personality in a large sample by using connectome-based predictive modeling (CPM), a recently developed machine learning approach. High-quality resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging data of 810 healthy young participants from the Human Connectome Project dataset were used to construct large-scale brain networks. Personality traits of the five-factor model (FFM) were assessed by the NEO Five Factor Inventory. We found that CPM successfully and reliably predicted all the FFM personality factors (agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness and neuroticism) other than extraversion in novel individuals. At the neural level, we found that the personality-associated functional networks mainly included brain regions within default mode, frontoparietal executive control, visual and cerebellar systems. Although different feature selection thresholds and parcellation strategies did not significantly influence the prediction results, some findings lost significance after controlling for confounds including age, gender, intelligence and head motion. Our finding of robust personality prediction from an individual’s unique functional connectome may help advance the translation of ‘brain connectivity fingerprinting’ into real-world personality psychological settings.

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