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Nardi “Neuroscience of Personality” Review

October 4, 2014
Neuroscience of Personality: Brain Savvy Insights for All Types of People
by Dario Nardi
200 pages Radiance House; 1.0 edition (August 1, 2011)

Here’s another one, for some reason, I thought I had really gone into this here already, but I guess not. I had done a couple typology forum posts on it, but that was it.

After this came out, people began claiming it debunked the previous work popularized by Lenore Thomson (and also used in Fundamental Nature of the MBTI, now at, which was from a guy named Jon Niednagel, of Brain Types Institute (
Hearing all the raves about it, I finally got it a couple of years ago.

I had said these brain studies are a very good prospect for type theory. Typology, as “abstract” a theory as it is, is often criticized for not having enough “empirical” research. As we’ve heard in the Creation-evolution debates, empirical evidence is what is demanded for something to be considered “scientific”. Else, it will be chucked aside and compared to “astrology”. Even when people do attempt empirical proof, as the creationists have done, it still is very hard to get it to pass in the scientific community. Creationists will think this is some anti-religious bias, but other theories face the same scrutiny. Typology is one of them.

Doesn’t seem the scientific community has really bought these studies as of yet. Not sure why (the closest thing to personality theory that is somewhat accepted is the Five Factor Model and the Thomas/Chest/Birch nine factor “modern” version of “temperament” theory (focused largely on children).
But who knows; hopefully, it will become more popular, and eventually be taken as hard evidence.

Nardi provides one example of each type, and shows the map of the brain, and the activity, scaled from “high” to “high mid”, “low mid” and “low”.

The letters stand for:

Fp:Pre-frontal (the very front)
F: Frontal (the next row)
T: Temporal (the rear left and right sides)
P: Parietal (the center and next to rear rows)
O: Occipital (the very rear)
C: Central. The middle row. In the book, it’s considered part of the “Parietal” area.
(I had to really search around online to find that).

He names them based on their supposed “skiils-sets”, much like he and Berens do the functions, in their Telos publications.

Odd numbers are left, and even numbers are their right side counterparts (F2 and P2 are center. The center of the middle row, which would be C2, is not designated).

Left Right
Fp1 “Chief Judge” Fp2 “Process Manager”
F7 “Imaginitive Mimic” F8 “Grounded Believer”
F3 “Deductive Analyst” F4 “Expert Classifier”
T3 “Precise Speaker” T4 “Intuitive Listener”
C3 “Factual Storekeeper” C4 “Flowing Artist”
T5 “Sensitive Mediator” T6 “Purposeful Futurist”
P3 “Tactical Navigator” P4 “Strategic Gamer”
O1 “Visual Engineer” O2 “Abstract Impressionist”

Here are the cognitive skills of each area

(slightly different clearer image)

The types all had four (or five) “High”[est] activity regions

ESTP Fp2 F3 F4 P4 (F2)
ESFP Fp2 F7 F8 T4
ISFJ Fp2 C4 T5 O2
ENTP Fp2 F7 T3 P4
ENFP Fp2 F7 T4 O2
INTJ Fp2 T3 T6 O1
INFJ Fp2 F8 T3 O1
ESTJ Fp1 F8 C3 O1
ENTJ Fp1 F8 T3 O1
ISTP Fp1 P3 O2 P4 (P2)
INTP Fp1 F3 F4 C3 (F2)
ESFJ Fp1 F7 T5 T3
ENFJ Fp1 T3 C4 T5
ISFP Fp1 O1 O2 T6
INFP Fp1 F8 T3 T4

I began looking for how they could right away be mapped to the type and temperament categories.

correlational patterns
Fp2 irrational types
Fp1 rational types
F7 Get Things Going (ESF/ENP. Here we have a mapping to an Interaction Style. Surprised Nardi didn’t mention this)
F8 “pure” temperaments, (ISTJ-Melancholy, ENTJ-Choleric, ESFP-Sanguine, INFP-Supine) plus INFJ (MelSup) and ESTJ (ChlorMel)

These are less of a pattern:
P4 SanChlor mixes (ExTP) and ISTP (MelSan)

T5 ISxJ ExFJ [both SFJ’s]
T6 INTJ, ISFP (“Supplements” <Type Logic; “Orchestrating” Cognitive Style < Berens)

F2 INTP, ESTP (and the other center one, P2 was only held by ISTP)

BTI theory has it simply:

Front: “E” extraverted functions
Rear: “I” introverted functions
Left: “J” functions (Je/Pi: Si, Ni, Te, Fe)
Right: “P” functions (Pe/Ji: Se, Ne, Ti, Fi)

People claim the new research (Nardi or otherwise) somehow disproves this. Citing the other research, they’ll generally say “perception functions [including introverted ones] are right, and judgment is left”, or “feeling is right and thinking is left”, regardless of orientation. There are also “pop-ideas” about the right brain being “feminine” and “creative” and the left brain being “masculine” and “linear.” This connects with the popular “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” theme.

Since Nardi emphasized that the areas he was mapping were the “neo-cortex”, I figured perhaps what Lenore was describing was some other area. Then, there would be no conflict. Lenore’s book doesn’t say exactly where she placed the J (Je/Pi) left and P (Pe/Je) right, E-front and I-back locations.

However she had once explained to me the functions as “neurological connections” from the limbic system to the frontal cortex. Then, she confirmed that the research she used wasn’t measuring activity in the neocortex; and wasn’t concerned with the cognitive patterns of whole types, like Nardi’s was. It was looking at the specific area of the brain engaged by a single function-attitude (and their relationship to the brain’s coordination of muscular activation), and so Nardi would likely get much broader results than the BTI maps she used. (Niednagel is actually a sports psychologist who was trying to link type to the kinds of sports that people were likely to prefer or excel in).
In Nardi’s research, “the functions” aren’t what’s located in these 16 areas. They just stimulate activity in these areas.
So the functions aren’t “things” located on the neocortex, so these connections they represent can still fit the right/left/front/back hemisphere order she mentioned, without contradicting the new research.

One person in a forum discussion further pointed out along these same lines:

“I disagree that it completely invalidates Thomson/Niednagel’s work, though. They are fundamentally different.

Thomson/Niednagel’s research involved PET scans [and MRI technology, using a dye that would be absorbed by glucose in the brain] and acknowledged that the loci were generalizations and in no way meant the process was completely understood or limited to what was found. She was simply indicating what was found in the imaging results. She readily acquiesced that the brain is extremely complex, and many processes – math for example – require and operate more efficiently using both sides of the brain together. I view it as just another piece of research that shouldn’t be thrown out until we find its place in the puzzle.

Nardi’s focused heavily on EEG readings, which are completely different animals. During a neuropsych evaluation for epilepsy surgery for example, both are used – because they provide radically different information on what the brain is doing regarding the seizure activity/behavior.
PET measures energy use and EEG measures electrical output. You need both to get a more complete picture.

Nardi found using EEG that dominant judging personality types tend to use the left prefrontal cortex while perceiving personality types tend to use the right prefrontal cortex. Just because Nardi’s work shows this doesn’t mean there isn’t heavy energy use going on in the back left brain during Si or Ni as well.

Neither of these studies has been replicated. Neither has been peer-reviewed (that I know of – if I’m mistaken that would be great to know – perhaps Nardi has been reviewed recently). [If not; that’s likely why it hasn’t been recognized by the larger field of science]. However, just because it hasn’t been reviewed doesn’t mean it is invalid. And while extremely interesting, there are limits to both. Good science would hesitate before throwing anything out.”

To actually see how these line up with BTi’s simple “right-left-front-back” arrangement, I looked at the general concentration of activity, on the maps:

ESTP front, slightly leaning to right. Some rear, leaning toward right
ESFP front, right
Overall: front
(F {informing}: more concentrated on right than T)

ISTJ rear left (strongest) and front right
ISFJ scattered across right with some rear left (low mid activity across whole left)
Overall: most consistently rear left
(F {informing}: more on right)

ENTP front/center left, larger concentration in rear right
ENFP strong whole right side, some front left [Fp1–high-mid; F7 imaginitive–high]
Overall: right
(T {structure}: more on left and rear than F {motive})

INTJ Fp2 + rear right, front left
INFJ front right, whole left, strongest in rear
Overall: perimeter, more consistently left
T: heavier in rear;
F: heavier on left, lighter in rear

ESTJ front and left
ENTJ front and right with some left
Overall: left
S {cooperative}: more concentrated;
N {pragmatic}: leans more to right

ISTP rear, slightly to right
INTP front slightly toward left
Overall: center (opposite)

ESFJ whole left side
ENFJ rear right, and two strong areas in rear left
Overall: left
S {informing}: more even;
N {directing}: shift to rear right

ISFP whole right and rear
INFP whole right, stronger towards front, and some front left
Overall: right
S {pragmatic}: more in rear than
N {cooperative}: stronger in front

Even with the explanation of the different scans and information being dealt with, there is still a surprising amount of correlation. The new research pretty much still does roughly match the E/I (front/back) and J/P (right/left) assignments! But we see here that the orientation does make a difference, even if not perfectly consistent.

Se is front (E) while Si is more rear (being introverted) and left (J-structure focus)
Ne is more right (P), while Ni is heavy in rear (I) or left (J-directive)
Te is of course left (J) and front (E), while Ti is lighter, being overall center (P and I influence)
Fe is very left (J) though the N variant has some right. Fi is of course very right

It seems to roughly match both expressiveness and responsiveness. High expressive (E) is front, of course, and low expressive (I) is rear.
High responsive is F and/or P, and low responsive is T and/or J.
Blends between the levels of responsiveness will affect the overall hemisphere locations. (As it does in a type’s overall “people vs task” focus, with TJ as most task focused, FP as most people focused, and TP and FJ somewhere inbetween).

S locations end up based on orientation: e-front, i-rear. F will generally push both (including the heavily left Si) more to the right (Aux. Se also is also more solidly right for F. Aux. Si is purely left).

Ne as a strong “P” functions is heavily right, though T pushes it more to the left (and rear. Same for aux. Ne).
Ni as as a “J” function is a bit more on the left. T, as with Ne, leans it toward the rear. F makes it lighter in the rear, but maintains a heavy left. For NJ’s, even F remains “directive” (low responsiveness). Aux. Ni is less solidly left, though, as the dom Je is out front.

Te is heavy front as extraverted. N seems to push it more to the right. (Doesn’t seem to correspond to responsivness at all, as TJ’s are solidly low in that dimension). Even as aux., seems to have notable front presence.

Ti, as a function combining expressiveness and reponsiveness (T directing[S] or structure[N] + P informing[N] or motive[S]) is pretty much center.
With S it’s more to the rear (introversion) and right (+P high responsivness). With N, it’s more front (Ne), and left.
Apparently, dominant introversion (rear) and Thinking (left) is maintained by Se (pushing it toward the rear, though maintaining right), and tempered by Ne (pushing it toward the front, but maintaining left). When aux., N seems to spread the concentration out, with more on the center and left.

Fe’s “J-ness” comes out strongest, making it heavily left (even when auxiliary with iNtuition). Dominant with N (which swaps responsiveness from the S variant; becoming directing and motive focused), is a bit more right, but more heavily rear. (Aux. Fe is still largely left, but with N does have some right presence).

Fi again, is very right, but S is more to the rear while N is more to the front. So for S, the introversion has the greater influence, while for N, it’s the extraverted auxiliary. (Like with Te, doesn’t affect responsiveness, as FP’s are solidly high. Aux Fi is still basically right, though with N, has some left).

The most important point for my correlation of type and classic temperament, is TJ’s having heavy “left” presence, and FP’s being very “right”. (TP especially, and FJ somewhat, are as stated, more “inbetween”).

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