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The Brain of an Extrovert

extrovertWe had discussed before what it means to be introverted. You can read it here.

It only seems fair to discuss the other types of people, extroverts. So, let’s dive in.

You’re creative. You’re the life of the party. You’re able to easily express yourself and engage in any conversation with anyone. You’re probably an extrovert. While extroversion has long been used to describe a personality type, it may be much more than that. Science has uncovered variations in the brain that actually determine if you’ll be an introvert or an extrovert.

According to many experts, there are more extroverted than introverted people in the world. Extroverts are typically outgoing, talkative, charming, and thoughtful. However, an extrovert doesn’t have to be any of these things. Extroversion is often used as a synonym for outgoing, but that’s not really taking into consideration the definition of the word. An extrovert is, by design, someone who derives his or her energy from external sources, namely other people.

Reward Processing

The way we process reward, for example, is different for extroverts than it is for introverts. Our brains are stimulated in various regions, which then activate a response. Rewards are essentially cause pleasure and can govern our behavior. It is typically dependent on how we’re motivated. Research has suggested that in the brain of an extrovert, rewards are typically derived on those things which deliver immediate gratification.

For example, say you won $1,000 on a lottery ticket. This theory speculates, if you were an extrovert you’d be more likely to spend the money on something you can use now, rather than deposit the money in an account that earns money over time. This is not to suggest that extroverts are careless with money or anything of the like, but the preference is to the reward that will be quickest.

The Dopamine Effect

While an introvert relatively quickly finds himself in need of a quiet place to be alone after being around people for a period of time, the extrovert is thriving. In fact, maybe you’ve been a little tired and decided to go out and socialize anyway. If you’re an extrovert, what you probably discovered is that you gained energy in that collective environment.

This is primarily due to the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine either increases or decreases the activity level of neurons. It is responsible for various functions in our brains including our pleasure processing, level of attention, and hormonal processes.

What scientists have uncovered is that extroverts tend to have a high tolerance for dopamine. Fundamentally, this means that extroverts need more dopamine for those processes to be optimal. Our bodies naturally produce a certain amount of dopamine (certain activities can increase or decrease the amount), so extroverts need to find other sources of it. Being around people and getting sensory input from activities that involve lots of people or risk-taking and adventure would increase the amount of dopamine and therefore be highly pleasurable for an extrovert.

This is also the case in terms of arousal. The extrovert’s brain tends to be less “busy” than that of an introvert. Extroverts have a rather hard go at being alone for longer periods of a time. While an introvert may find this soothing and necessary, an extrovert becomes quickly bored and wants to do something. This is due to the fact that an extrovert’s brain is not naturally active enough to produce sufficient levels of arousal without external stimulation.

Sensory Information

It is clear that extroverts seemingly enjoy the external world – people, places, activities. This is due, simply, to the amount of brain activity in the parts of the brain that receive and process sensory information. In as much as extroverts must seek out external stimulation because of the high tolerance for dopamine, so must the extrovert turn his or her attention outward to stimulate his senses as well. An introvert has a higher degree of brain activity (this is NOT implying that introverts are inherently smarter than extroverts), so it’s not as necessary to an introvert to get this stimulation from other places. It’s produced internally.

Check out few great pictures on how to care for both types. (source – http://www.fastcompany.com/3016031/leadership-now/are-you-an-introvert-or-an-extrovert-and-what-it-means-for-your-career)

Extroverts

Introverts

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Genius Awakening was created to lead people to a better understanding of self and others in order to navigate our world at a higher and more awakened level of being. Together we will explore the depths of consciousness in order to evolve beyond our current paradigms into a world of love, joy and peace. Oksana and Larry Ostrovsky are passionate guides of this space.
  • Jesper

    HI! Do you know if there is any correlation between being m/f and being an introvert or extrovert? Thanks!

    • Jesper, many say that generally women are more extraverted than men but I haven’t found enough data that actually shows a significant difference between men and women in introversion and extroversion.

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