Brain Science of Politics

So this article just got published (as far as I saw), which seems to indicate that there are actual physical differences in the brains of self described liberals and conservatives.  It does seem to agree with my previous posting on bipolar behavior of politcians.

Using data from MRI scans, researchers at the University College London found that self-described liberals have a larger anterior cingulate cortex–a gray matter of the brain associated with understanding complexity. Meanwhile, self-described conservatives are more likely to have a larger amygdala, an almond-shaped area that is associated with fear and anxiety.

Ok, I’ll admit, this seems to fit, and passes the initial “faux science smell test” of fitting the world view of many people.  Liberals get complexity, conservatives are fear mongers.  Ok, so I call shenanigans, precisely because it fits so easily into our preconceived views on these people.  Not included in the study, centrists, socialists, etc. or determination of the other options in the political spectrum and the associated brain structure sizing.  What if I’m a financial conservative but social liberal?  Etc.

The good news is that the researchers know this and have commented on it, but I’m guessing many people will ignore the remaining questions.

While the London study does find distinct differences between Democrats and Republicans, its authors caution that more research needs to be done on the subject. One unknown is whether people are simply born with their political beliefs or if our brains adjust to life experiences–which is a possibility, Kanai writes.

We all knew that these views were different, but posing them as polar opposites coded into the brain seems a bit of a stretch.

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