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Last week, I shared an extraordinary study describing the human brain’s “connectome” – our first glimpse into how neural connections are made in our brains. Recently, several studies have appeared attempting to link one’s political views with our neuroanatomy – is this coincidence or somehow tied to the impending 2012 election cycle?

The most recent is a British study that purportes a link between political affiliations and the size of our amygdala…{hmmm….curious indeed…}

Fear and conservatism? I think we’ve all heard that before.

Researchers have found evidence that the brains of conservatives are a different shape to those of Left-wingers.

Scans of 90 students’ brains at University College London uncovered a ‘strong correlation’ between the thickness of two particular areas of grey matter and an individual’s political views.

Self-proclaimed right-wingers had a more pronounced amygdala – a primitive part of the brain associated with emotion.
It is an almond-shape set of neurons located deep in the brain’s medial temporal lobe.
However, those aligned to the left had thicker anterior cingulates – which is an area associated with anticipation and decision-making.

The research was carried out by Geraint Rees director of the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience who said he was ‘very surprised’ by the finding, which is being peer reviewed before publication next year.

Not yet published? That part bothers me considerably…nevertheless, this is an example of scientists reaching out to the media to share their latest results. I withhold my judgement until I am able to review the published study.

What do you think?

Note:

Actor Colin Firth commissioned the study as a light-hearted experiment but that has now developed into something more serious.

Comments

  1. #1 Eric Juve
    January 3, 2011

    I don’t believe it is the size of the gray matter, but the wiring matters….

  2. #2 Mister Smartie
    January 18, 2011

    I wonder if Rees was “very surprised” by a finding that parallels the imagination, or that someone would seek to publish it! If only the matter went deeper than the left/right paradigm, I would be happy to see the media bat this one around

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