About a month ago I found a blog called The Introverted Church which was of particular interest to me as I am an introvert who has often felt pressured to be an extrovert by people who misunderstand.. Not by my dear husband, I must add, but by others who don't understand that solitude is not loneliness. Here is an excerpt from one of the posts on the blog I found very interesting.
Traditionally introversion has been identified by its behaviors. Martin Olsen Laney, author of the foundational book The Introvert Advantage, identified three main behavioral patterns: 1. Find energy in solitude 2. Processes internally 3. Prefers depth over breadth. In chapter 2 of my book (title and release date still forthcoming) I discuss these expressions of introversion, but I'm now adding a section that examines recent research that introversion and extroversion are actually hard wired into our brains.
Psychological and neuroscientific studies have discovered three main differences between introverted and extroverted brains:
1. Introverts have more naturally active brains than extroverts. Though introverts often have an aura of calmness on the surface, their brains are abuzz with activity. Thus, they require less external stimulation than extroverts, and too much outside stimulation can cause them to feel overwhelmed.
2. Second, blood flows in different paths in introverted and extroverted brains. Introverts have more blood flow in the brain, but it moves in a different path than extroverted blood. The blood in introverted brains flows to the areas that are focused on internal things like remembering, problem solving, and planning. On the other hand, the blood in extroverted brains flows to the areas used for processing external activities and sensory experiences.
3. Introverts and extroverts have different chemical balances in their brains. Extroverts require more dopamine, a neurotransmitter (a chemical substance that transmits nerve impulses) that is produced through motion and activity. They are less sensitive to dopamine than introverts and thus require more of it. Introverted brains, on the other hand, are dominated by another neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, which is important for long term memory and a feeling of calm. Acetylcholine is the neurotransmitter of the parasympathetic nervous system, which reacts to stress with a "rest and repose" response. Dopamine, on the other hand, produces a "fight or flight" reaction to stress.