Are you unusally sensitive, and is it all in your head?

That’s not only a pithy title but a dumb one; the quiz I’m going to link to is wildly unrevealing, little better than one you’d find on Facebook crafted by a 15-year-old and rife with misspellings, and of course the personality trait known as “sensitive”–as with all personality traits–originates in the brain.

Still, this post on CNN’s “Paging Dr. Gupta” blog is of interest from a neuroscience perspective. Research recently published in the medical journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to assess the brain activity of 18 subjects, and found that those with a tendency to be highly affected by events around them as well as drugs such as caffeine demonstrated higher levels of activity in regions of the brain associated with processing details pertaining to visual stimuli. (I’m betting that FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper of Twin Peaks fame would score off the charts here, as would the smarmy dude on the USA Network show Psych.)

The researchers claim that despite the ability of such individuals to take notice of minutiae that evades the less sensitive, this skill often fails to transfer into on-the-job productivity because these people often spend more time looking at details than cogitating about their immediate implications.

Do you have “”sensory processing sensitivity” yourself? Take this quiz, and find out, or not.

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