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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Extraversion as a modifying factor in catecholamine and behavioral responses to ethanol.

Individual differences in catecholamine response to stress and ethanol were tested in extraverts and introverts on the basis of Eysenck's drug postulate claiming that introverts would be less susceptible to sedative drugs like ethanol. Forty-four healthy males received either 0.8 g/kg ethanol mixed into a drink of caffeine-free cola or a respective placebo and were tested with a stressful mental arithmetic task before and 40 min after the intake of the drink. Plasma catecholamines were determined from blood samples drawn at five defined intervals from an indwelling cannula and self-ratings on deactivation, relaxation, and anxiety were obtained as well as quality and quantity of performance in the arithmetic task. Results showed that there was no difference in catecholamine stress responses between introverts (Ex -) and extraverts (Ex +) before the drink, but that the intake of the fluid (both ethanol and placebo) resulted in higher norepinephrine (NE) increases in Ex - than in Ex +. The combined effects of ethanol and stress yielded larger responses of longer durations in Ex - than in Ex +. The concomitant psychological changes showed larger reductions in anxiety and increases in relaxation as well as larger decrements in quality of performance (% errors) in introverts in spite of their higher catecholamine increases. Thus, the predictions on the basis of arousal theory could not be verified experimentally and the drug postulate has to be modified in the sense that introverts probably have a higher depletion of NE in the central nervous system under physical but not under mental stress which is reflected by higher levels in the plasma and respective decreases in performance and activation.[1]


  1. Extraversion as a modifying factor in catecholamine and behavioral responses to ethanol. Netter, P., Vogel, W., Rammsayer, T. Psychopharmacology (Berl.) (1994) [Pubmed]
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