, Stony Brook University psychologists claim that MRI scans can identify the population whose genetic composition makes them highly sensitive.
The clinical term Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) was coined by study author, Elaine Aron.
HSP refers to someone for whom biological differences in the nervous system helps them process emotional information more deeply than others.
In the study, co-author Dr Arthur Aron and his colleagues processed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scans of 18 married individuals.
Subjects were shown pictures displaying various human emotions. Researchers used the MRI scans to trace how an HSP’s brain activity processes the emotions of others.
"We found that areas of the brain involved with awareness and emotion, particularly those areas connected with empathetic feelings, in the HSP showed substantially greater blood flow to relevant brain areas than was seen in individuals with low sensitivity during the 12 second period when they viewed the photos," Aron says.
The greatest degree of blood flow occurred when participants viewed photos of their spouses happy.
The study was published in the journal, Brain And Behaviour.