Attention and personality in augmenting/reducing of visual evoked potentials

Georg Stenberg, Ingmar Rosén, Jarl Risberg

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28 Citations (Scopus)
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Earlier research has shown that extraverts tend to increase their visual evoked potential amplitudes with increasing light intensity (augmenting), while introverts reach their maximum amplitude at lower intensities (reducing). The evoked response has normally been measured from association areas of the brain (at the vertex). The present study measured VEP amplitudes over visual cortex and at the vertex, using four light intensities in two conditions, where attention was either directed towards the light stimuli, or away from them by a concurrent auditory task. Forty subjects were classified as extraverts or introverts based on the Eysenck Personality Inventory. The results show that attention interacted significantly with extraversion. Introverts exhibited a narrower focus of attention, with higher amplitudes and amplitude-intensity functions when attending to the light flashes and lower when distracted. Extraverts showed smaller differences between conditions, indicating a more evenly distributed attention. Higher arousal in introverts is the probable cause of their narrower focus of attention. There were marked differences in the distribution of activity between vertex and occipital cortex. Introverts showed relatively stronger occipital responses and extraverts stronger vertex responses across all intensities and in both conditions. The predisposition for mainly perceptual responses to aversive stimuli in introverts, and for general alerting and motor preparatory responses in extraverts, are interpreted as supportive of Brebner & Cooper's hypothesis that introverts are "geared to inspect" and extraverts are "geared to respond".

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1243-1254
Number of pages11
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Psychology (501)
  • Social Sciences (5)


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