Your personality, that is. You already knew that, but neuroscientist Dario Nardi, who teaches at UCLA, can show you exactly where your personality is located. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but not much of one.
Nardi, author of The Neuroscience of Personality: Brain Savvy Insights for All Types of People, is certified in the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Inventory) and has been studying how people of different types use their brains differently. So far, the bulk of his work has been with the MBTI, but he has begun using some of the same tools to study people of different Enneagram types.
He contributed an article, Neuroscience Meets the Enneagram, to the current issue of Nine Points, the International Enneagram Association magazine. In the article, he says:
Personally, I like the Enneagram because it addresses drives and emotions—features lacking in the Myers-Briggs model—and because it can be used in a dynamic way, such as movement along various types.
It has always seemed obvious to me that people of different types use their brains differently. But that doesn’t mean all individuals of the same type use their brains in exactly the same way.
With three layers, six lobes, dozens of specialized modules, and various whole-brain patterns, the brain evokes a diverse and often industrious society of mind, or a playground of curious, unruly children, if you prefer.
Here’s an image of the modular regions of the brain, looking at the neocortex from the top down, with the ears at the sides and the nose at the top.
The work Nardi has done in regard to the MBTI involved using EEG brain-mapping equipment. He has not thus far used the EEG to study the Enneagram. However, he has developed a questionnaire, the NeuroPQ, that he says:
…results in a colorful portrait of a person’s cognitive skill-set—a person’s use of fifty-plus regions of the neocortex, which is the brain’s thick outer layer.
I’ve taken the NeuroPQ, so I can give you a firsthand report of what you’ll get if you decide to check it out. The NeuroPQ profile consists of four components. The first one shows your use of different cognitive skills based on 20 regions of the neocortex. Another component shows how much you use the left hemisphere of the brain as compared to the right. The third part shows your preferred way of what the profile calls “handling things” (auditory, kinesthetic, visual, meta, and executive). The last part shows your competency in different “domains” (artistic, literate, logical, physical, protective, reflective, social, and technical).
In the Nine Points article, Nardi offered a disclaimer that he doesn’t believe the brain causes personality type.
Rather, your brain supports your needs, values, drives, and the other aspects of who you are in mostly consistent—and sometimes very contradictory—ways.
So the NeuroPQ is a map of your personal cognitive skills, of the way in which you use your head, so to speak.
Nardi is attempting to amass more data on Enneagram types, so if you would like to complete the NeuroPQ, you will not only get some information about what’s going on inside your own head, you will also be contributing to his research.