The important role of dACC in shyness

  • Yu Mao
  • Jie Meng
  • Cody Ding
  • Dongtao Wei
  • Jinfu Zhang
  • Jiang QiuEmail author


Shyness is often characterized by the avoidance of social contact, the fear of other people’s evaluations and a lack of self-esteem. Generally, individuals with high levels of shyness are more likely to suffer from psychosomatic stress and social anxiety. However, the structural brain basis of individual shyness among healthy people has not yet been investigated with DTI (diffusion tensor imaging). Thus, in this study, we investigated the relationship between FA (fractional anisotropy), WMV (white matter volume), GMV (gray matter volume) and shyness in a large healthy sample of 318 college students. Multiple regression was used to analyze the correlations among regional FA, WMV, GMV and shyness, adjusting for age, sex, and total intracranial volume. The results showed that shyness was significantly, negatively associated with FA, WMV and GMV in a cluster that included the dACC (dorsal anterior cingulate cortex) and the MCC (middle cingulate cortex) and was significantly positively associated with the GMV in the IPL (inferior parietal lobule), an effect that may have been related to the weaker ability to regulate emotion in these participants and their state of being overly worried about others’ evaluations. Finally, mediation analyses revealed that the correlation between shyness and psychosomatic stress was mediated by a region including the dACC and the MCC.


Shyness Diffusion tensor imaging Dorsal anterior cingulate cortex Inferior parietal lobule 



This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31470981; 31571137; 31500885; 31600878; 31771231), Project of the National Defense Science and Technology Innovation Special Zone, Chang Jiang Scholars Program, National Outstanding Young People Plan, the Program for the Top Young Talents by Chongqing, the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (SWU1609177), Natural Science Foundation of Chongqing (cstc2015jcyjA10106), Fok Ying Tung Education Foundation (151023), the Research Program Funds of the Collaborative Innovation Center of Assessment toward Basic Education Quality at Beijing Normal University.

Compliance with ethical standards

This study was approved by the local ethics committee of Southwest China University and the Institutional Human Participants Review Board of the Southwest University Imaging Center for Brain Research. The methods were conducted in accordance with the approved guidelines. All participants provided written informed consent prior to taking part in the study.

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Animal studies and human participants

All procedures performed in the studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yu Mao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jie Meng
    • 1
    • 2
  • Cody Ding
    • 1
    • 2
  • Dongtao Wei
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jinfu Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jiang Qiu
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Cognition and Personality (SWU), Ministry of EducationChongqingChina
  2. 2.Department of PsychologySouthwest UniversityChongqingChina

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