Brains Rally for Change

Melanie Rovinsky

When considering why millions of Americans went wild over Barack Obama’s call for change, most individuals would claim the support resulted from emotional connections, patriotism, or simple dissatisfaction with the party in power. However, new research shows that certain individuals may be “wired” for change.

People who crave lifestyle changes and those who are open to new experiences have more developed brain connections than individuals who try to avoid the new or unusual. Researcher Dr. Bernd Weber of the Life & Brain Center in Germany claimed that the connection between the hippocampus (an area of the brain where memories are stored) and the ventral striatum (the brain’s reward system) is greater in change-seekers. When the brain signals that an experience is new, the hippocampus triggers the striatum to release neurotransmitters, which results in positive feelings.

“Brain ‘wiring’ and personality are not really one causing the other,” Weber said about the study.

Surveys and tests revealed that other personality traits, such as the desire to be socially accepted, are linked with strengthened and weakened connections between various parts of the brain. The varying brain pathways do not cause the personality trait; rather, the trait is an interaction of the wiring and the behavior.

What exactly that interaction is has yet to be determined. However, research has revealed that there is a definite relationship “between a person’s personality and their physical brain structure.”