In the book Quiet (2012) Susan Cain provides a fascinating snapshot of the inner lives of introverts in a world that typically values extroverts. She analyzes riveting research in psychology and neuroscience to highlight the interesting differences between the two temperament types. Of note, extroverted individuals are more likely to be highly sensitivity to receiving rewards (e.g., sex, chocolate, money, status), and this “buzz” occurs in a group of structures in the brain called the “reward system.” This system, which includes the orbitofrontal cortex, nucleus accumbens, and amygdale are operated in part by the neurotransmitter dopamine. According to Cain, “Extroverts’ dopamine pathways appear to be more active than those of introverts…By contrast, introverts have a smaller response in the reward system and go less out of their way to follow up reward cues.” So, which one are you, introvert or extrovert? And, on another interesting note, can this change over time with individual experience and development?
Listen in to Cain’s TED talk at http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts.