Scientists have discovered that the brains of introverts are actually different from those of extroverts. This isn’t too surprising, especially considering all of the research now coming out of the field of neuroplasticity. It refers to various changes that can take place in the brain (including changes in neural pathways and synapses) as a result of shifts in things like: a person’s behaviour or environment; their perception of the environment around them; neural processes; the way they think and feel and more.

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We know very little about the brain, and the question that comes to mind here is, are the brains of introverts/extroverts physically different, therefore making their behaviour and responses different? Or are things like their environment, their perception of the world, their emotions, and their thought processes responsible for shaping their brains and making those changes?  Or is it a combination of the two? We do know the latter to be true, but we also know that certain brain formations that differ from the norm are responsible for certain behaviors in certain individuals.

What’s the point of all this? Well, you should remember to avoid letting labels like these define you, even though they are interesting and may offer insight into your personality and biology. Here’s a video from Discovery News outlining the research for all of you audio-visual learners.

Again, this is nothing to take too seriously, and could be a good reminder for all the “introverts” and “extroverts” out there to step outside of their comfort zone, to do things they wouldn’t normally do. There is a tremendous amount of joy and growth to be had from leaving one’s comfort zone and engaging in a new experience. There might be a mix of both of these qualities in multiple individuals, but one thing is for sure, you can change your brain by the way you feel, think, and perceive (neuroplasticity).

This is also exemplified by the placebo effect. You can read more about that and access the medical research regarding that here.

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Research has found that extroverts make up 50-70 percent of the population, and that introverts make up 16-50 percent. In the 1960’s, a psychologist by the name of Hans Eysenck thought that extroverts had a lower level of “arousal” and that they required more stimulation in order to feel alert. This is interesting because studies have shown that  the front part of introvert’s brains are very active and stimulated by solitary activities, while the back part of an extrovert’s brains are most active.

“This part of the brain is stimulated by sensory events coming in from the external world. In addition, a chemical called “dopamine” is released by our brains whenever we experience something positive. It’s an automatic reward center and makes us feel good! Extroverts need more dopamine to feel an effect, whereas introverts have a low dopamine threshold.” (source)

In 2005, researchers concluded in a study that it might all be linked to dopamine, and a study  in 2012 at Harvard University found that introverts tend to have larger, thicker gray matter in their prefrontal cortex – a part of the brain that is linked to complex thoughts and decision making. The study concluded that “this might be accountable for introvert’s tendencies to sit in a corner and ponder things thoroughly before making a decision, and extroverts’ ability to live in the moment and take risks without fully thinking everything through.” (source) (source # 2: study)

Definitely some interesting stuff to ponder!



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