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article imageBrain shape of conservatives is different to liberals

By Paul Wallis     Dec 28, 2010 in Science
London - There seems to have been a lot of research on the cerebral differences of conservatives and liberals lately. These new findings by the University College of London indicates different brain physiology.
The UCL findings indicate conservatives have thicker tissues in a part of the brain called the amygdala, the emotional area, and liberals have thicker anterior cingulates, which are associated with emotion, but also associated with learning.
The research began as a “lighthearted” idea by BBC actor Colin Firth, but has become serious research. In conjunction with recent news regarding the difference in how conservatives and liberals interact with people, the subject is turning into an actual, if unintentional, study of mentalities.
Professor Rees of UCL, as quoted by The Sydney Morning Herald:
"The anterior cingulate is a part of the brain that is on the middle surface of the brain at the front and we found that the thickness of the grey matter, where the nerve cells of neurons are, was thicker the more people described themselves as liberal or left wing and thinner the more they described themselves as conservative or right wing…"
"The amygdala is a part of the brain which is very old and very ancient and thought to be very primitive and to do with the detection of emotions. The right amygdala was larger in those people who described themselves as conservative.
"It is very significant because it does suggest there is something about political attitudes that are either encoded in our brain structure through our experience or that our brain structure in some way determines or results in our political attitudes
."
The inference is that the mind is responding to political and social issues through neural pathways which are configured by these structures in different ways.
That’s new science, and it’s also, naturally, highly controversial science. Prof. Rees says that the correlations between brain structures and preferences are strong, but that the scans alone wouldn’t determine a preference.
The strictly conventional view of brain performance is that people’s minds and behaviors are effectively hardwired in youth. There’s been no suggestion of relative measures of intelligence based on these or other findings regarding the differences between liberals and conservatives.
The common factor emerging from these studies is that there are actual physiological differences between liberals and conservatives in terms of both behavior and neurological structures. The number of possible physiological, intellectual and environmental factors involved in these issues hasn’t yet been addressed, either, which is likely to create a few situations in terms of any definitive findings.
Neurological configurations and behaviors don’t just happen that consistently. It’s interesting to note that all cultures on Earth have at some stage expressed a dichotomy between materialists and metaphysically minded people, progressives and conservatives, etc. Is humanity naturally physically bipolar in some way? It may even be that human social evolution has been having an each way bet on social behaviors, with the opposed groups working as mechanisms for social decision making since the start of human existence.
I try not to quote myself, but here’s one from Mimbly Tales: “Nothing is too absurd to take up space in a human brain.” This may be why.
More about Liberals conservatives neurology, Amygdala, Anterior cingulates
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