fMRI study of 1,246 Duke undergrads finds common brain structures in disordersWorking with colleague and coauthor, Avshalom Caspi, also a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke, Romer first used information from the assessments to estimate each individual's p-factor score. She then used the MRI data to test correlations between the estimated p-factor scores and grey matter volume, a measure of brain density, and the "integrity" of white matter pathways throughout the brain. She and the team were surprised to find that higher p-factor scores were correlated with lower grey matter volume in the cerebellum, a region of the brain that has traditionally been associated more with motor function and coordination than with emotion and thinking. She also found that students with higher p-factor scores showed less integrity of white matter pathways within the pons, which includes wiring that connects the cerebellum with higher-order reasoning centers in the prefrontal cortex. These connections are known to play a key role in providing feedback on how well our movements are in sync with our internal model of what we hope to achieve, so that we can update and change course accordingly. These white matter pathways may also play a similar role in providing real-world feedback that helps us better regulate our thoughts and emotions, the researchers say.