Personality and mood affect the brain's response to personal choices

on 27 November 2018
Hypnosis helps you look younger, live longer

While we busy our way through every day, taking fewer breaks, working harder and longer, are we are engaging in a failed strategy? This and my own research definitely seems to suggest it is but if this is a failed strategy, what is a successful one. . . . 

Changing your mind purposefully, changes your life!

Unfortunately, though, it can change it for the better or the worse, the choice is up to you. Although, it is questionable whether you will have the necessary skills required to make those changes. Fortunately, that is where hypnotherapy may be able to help you make that transition; from a bad place to a good one!

An interesting piece of research, mostly for me, because, it focuses much on the Ventral Striatum. The striatum is consists of several brain areas and is made up, mostly, of two parts, the dorsal striatum, (top/upper part) and the ventral striatum (bottom/lower). The interest for me in this research is its reference to the insular cortex (insular lobe). While the ventral striatum is influential in the brain's reward pathways, the insula has far more involvement in many areas of our brain's functionality. For example, it is involved in our emotions and the body's homeostasis. Areas under its influence include compassion, empathy (through its ability to imagine the pain/suffering of another person), perception, motor control, self-awareness, cognitive functioning, and interpersonal experience. The insular cortex is divided into two parts, anterior (front) and posterior (back), the anterior is made up of 3 or 4 short gyri  (ridges) and the posterior is made up of 2 long gyri. 

The insula gets a fair chunk of its information from the thalamus, the brain's sensory relay station and transmits information to, the ventral striatum, but also the amygdala (and subsequently its neighbours (the extended amygdala)) as well as the orbitofrontal cortex. One of the functions of the orbitofrontal cortex is that it regulates our fear/threat detection system and when we are (dis)stressed, it begins to function differently, in that, the fear/threat detection system takes a dominant role and the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) backs off because it's way too logical, analytical and pragmatic. When you are under threat, you need to act, not think! The insular and the OFC are involved in a lot that makes us human whereas the fear/threat detection systems are more related to what makes us animals. 

An interesting study, relating to the insular, is the discovery of the relationship between vipassana meditation and its effect on the structure of the insular cortex. People who use this meditation technique have more grey matter (more neurons) and the more experienced the person is, the more grey matter. This important thing here is not so much on the meditation but rather, on the wave states the brain goes into during meditation, Hypnosis takes us into these same states, albeit via a different route, and that is what creates the profound sense of relaxation during hypnosis. However, relaxation is not the objective of hypnosis, merely a collateral effect, as is the abundance of grey matter in the insular as a consequence of meditation.

It appears to be clear that the resultant increase in grey matter is a collateral effect of slower brainwaves, aka, relaxation. There are a number of benefits of these deeper and slower brainwaves, be it in sleep, meditation or hypnosis, and they appear to be not only repair of the brain and body or the consolidation and reconsolidation of memory but also aiding in the processes of neurogenesis (new neurons) and neuroplasticity (new synaptic connections). So, to build a better and more functional brain; relax!

Hypnotherapy stands out as one of the most effective strategic life management methods there is, especially in its ability to promote clear thinking and good states of mental wellness. The behaviours that make life challenging are often a result of too much stress, too little sleep and too little by way of clarity! So, to take back control of your mind and your life, it makes perfect sense to use a methodology that addresses the subconscious mind's role in perpetuating negative, vague and ambiguous states of mind. Hypnosis helps us to create calm relaxing states of mind that make life work better! If you would like to address any concerns you have in this direction, or, if you just want to make your life feel better,  then why not make an appointment for a Free Consultation? Hypnosis gives you the ability to have a good life!

The objective here is to help people understand how and why we become illogically trapped into irrational emotional experiences that may actually be happening for reasons different to that which we would imagine! If you want to know more about how Hypnotherapy can help you; why not make an appointment for a Free Consultation?

For more information on the Free Consultation - Go Here Or, to book your Free Consultation today, you can do so here

The Research: 

Personality traits and mental health affect how people value personal control in decision making, according to a new study in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging. Our brain's reward and motivation systems show higher activity when we feel personal control in a situation and when we receive rewards that we've earned, rather than been given -- but this activity was dampened in people with passive personalities or with symptoms of depression. The connections between personality, choice, and depression may help guide researchers to understand how to protect healthy people from developing the illness.

"This study, which used computational models of reward behaviours and functional MRI, represents an advance in our understanding of how rewards shape choices in the brains of healthy individuals," said Cameron Carter, MD, Editor of Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging.

In the study, the researchers used an MRI scanner to measure the brain activity of 122 healthy participants while the participants played a computer game to earn rewards. "We were interested to see how people value rewarding outcomes based on their own personally-driven decisions, versus those that are decided for them by the computer," said first-author Liana Romaniuk, PhD, University of Edinburgh.

"We found that an area that is important for motivation and learning by trial-and-error -- the ventral striatum -- was especially active when people were told they were going to get to make a decision," said Dr Romaniuk.

Although all of the participants in the study were considered healthy, the researchers looked for relationships between brain activity and symptoms of depression. Activation in the ventral striatum was reduced in people with some symptoms of depression, which may help explain why people with depression lose their motivation.

"Since these brain networks were differentially active in the presence of subclinical depressive symptoms, it suggests a future role for functional brain imaging in understanding individual differences in mental wellness and in informing early intervention and prevention of mood disorders," said Dr Carter.

The findings also provide clues as to how personality might make a person susceptible to depression. "People who were more self-motivated had stronger responses to personally-earned rewards in a region of cortex called the insula, whereas more passive people showed the opposite," said Dr Romaniuk, adding that "The insula cortex is important because we know its function is altered in people with depression."

Story Source:

Materials provided by ElsevierNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Liana Romaniuk, Anca-Larisa Sandu, Gordon D. Waiter, Christopher J. McNeil, Shen Xueyi, Matthew A. Harris, Jennifer A. Macfarlane, Stephen M. Lawrie, Ian J. Deary, Alison D. Murray, Mauricio R. Delgado, J. Douglas Steele, Andrew M. McIntosh, Heather C. Whalley. The Neurobiology of Personal Control During Reward Learning and Its Relationship to MoodBiological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.bpsc.2018.09.015

Cite This Page:

Elsevier. "Personality and mood affect brain response to personal choice." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 November 2018. <>.