Research uncovers patterns in the resting brains of highly s
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Sensory processing sensitivity (SPS) is a biologically based temperament trait associated with enhanced awareness and responsivity to environmental and social stimuli. Individuals with high SPS are more affected by their environments, which may result in overarousal, cognitive depletion, and fatigue.

Researchers examined individual differences in resting-state (rs) brain connectivity (using functional MRI) as a function of SPS among a group of adults immediately after they completed a social affective “empathy” task. SPS was measured with the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) Scale and correlated with rs brain connectivity.

--Results showed enhanced rs brain connectivity within the ventral attention, dorsal attention, and limbic networks as a function of greater SPS.

--Region of interest analyses showed increased rs brain connectivity between the hippocampus and the precuneus (implicated in episodic memory); while weaker connectivity was shown between the amygdala and the periaqueductal gray (important for anxiety), and the hippocampus and insula (implicated in habitual cognitive processing).

The present study showed that SPS is associated with rs brain connectivity implicated in attentional control, consolidation of memory, physiological homeostasis, and deliberative cognition. These results support theories proposing “depth of processing” as a central feature of SPS and highlight the neural processes underlying this cardinal feature of the trait.