Associations between anterior cingulate cortex glutamate and γ-aminobutyric acid concentrations and the harm avoidance temperament

Hengjun J. Kim, Jieun E. Kim, Gyunggoo Cho, In Chan Song, Sujin Bae, Seokjun J. Hong, Sujung J. Yoon, In Kyoon Lyoo, Tae Suk Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Converging lines of evidence have suggested that the personality traits might have neurobiological underpinnings. The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) has been implicated to play an important role in the human fear and anxiety. Functional and structural characteristics of ACC have been suggested to be associated with the harm avoidance (HA) temperament, one of the important temperament dimensions. Therefore, we aimed to investigate correlations between neurometabolite concentrations in ACC, specifically glutamate and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which are major excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters, respectively, and HA scores. Neurometabolite concentrations were measured using high resolution single voxel proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS), and the HA temperament was evaluated using the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI). Correlations between HA scores from 37 participants (21 men/16 women, age of 30.3 ± 7.0) and glutamate and GABA concentrations in the mid-ACC region were evaluated. HA scores correlated negatively with glutamate concentrations in ACC (partial correlation, R = -0.54, df = 33, P = 0.001) and positively with GABA concentrations in ACC (partial correlation, R = 0.48, df = 30, P = 0.005). These findings suggest that glutamate and GABA concentrations in ACC are closely related to levels of the HA temperament in healthy subjects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-107
Number of pages5
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - 23 Oct 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Korea Research Foundation Grants funded by the Korean Government (MOEHRD, KRF-2008-331-E00169, TSK; KRF-2007-511-H00002, HJK and GC; KRF-2008-220-E00021, IKL), R&E Program funded by the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education and Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (2009-0074584, JEK; 2009-0066915, SJY).


  • Anterior cingulate cortex
  • Glutamate
  • Harm avoidance
  • Magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • Personality
  • γ-Aminobutyric acid


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