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Three Genetic-Environmental Networks for Human Personality

Journal article
Authors Igor Zwir
Coral Del-Val
Javier Arnedo
Laura Pulkki-Råback
Betina Konte
Sarah S. Yang
Rocio Romero-Zaliz
Mirka Hintsanen
Kevin M. Cloninger
Danilo Garcia
Dragan M. Svrakic
Nigel Lester
Sandor Rozsa
Alberto Mesa
Leo-Pekka Lyytikäinen
Ina Giegling
Mika Kähönen
Maribel Martinez
Ilkka Seppälä
Emma Raitoharju
Gabriel de Erausquin
Daniel Mamah
Olli Raitakari
Dan Rujescu
Teodor T. Postolache
C. Charles Gu
Joohon Sung
Terho Lehtimäki
Liisa Keltikangas-Järvinen
C. Robert Cloninger
Published in Molecular Psychiatry
ISSN 1359-4184
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Keywords Personality, Memory Systems, Machine Learning, Deep Unsupervised Learning, Genome-wide Association, Gene-Environment Interaction
Subject categories Psychology, Psychiatry


Phylogenetic, developmental, and brain-imaging studies suggest that human personality is the integrated expression of three major systems of learning and memory that regulate (1) associative conditioning, (2) intentionality, and (3) self-awareness. We have uncovered largely disjoint sets of genes regulating these dissociable learning processes in different clusters of people with (1) unregulated temperament profiles (i.e., associatively conditioned habits and emotional reactivity), (2) organized character profiles (i.e., intentional self-control of emotional conflicts and goals), and (3) creative character profiles (i.e., self-aware appraisal of values and theories), respectively. However, little is known about how these temperament and character components of personality are jointly organized and develop in an integrated manner. In three large independent genome-wide association studies from Finland, Germany, and Korea, we used a data-driven machine learning method to uncover joint phenotypic networks of temperament and character and also the genetic networks with which they are associated. We found three clusters of similar numbers of people with distinct combinations of temperament and character profiles. Their associated genetic and environmental networks were largely disjoint, and differentially related to distinct forms of learning and memory. Of the 972 genes that mapped to the three phenotypic networks, 72% were unique to a single network. The findings in the Finnish discovery sample were blindly and independently replicated in samples of Germans and Koreans. We conclude that temperament and character are integrated within three disjoint networks that regulate healthy longevity and dissociable systems of learning and memory by nearly disjoint sets of genetic and environmental influences.

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