The makeup of the human brain may guide people's political views, according to a recent study
An amusing "spin" put on the findings below: The usual old Leftist attempt to smear conservatives. The brain and its component parts are very complex and associating one of those parts with "fear" is ludicrously simplistic: Rather reminiscent of the old-time phrenologists, in fact. Other research has been interpreted as showing the same area to be associated with greater "sociability", for instance. Take your pick!
Phrenology: "Head reading"
Nonetheless, the report is interesting in that tends to confirm what has long been known from twin studies -- that ideology is highly heritable genetically
Political views may be hard-wired into people, according to a study that suggests those with right-wing views have a larger area of the brain associated with fear.
Scientists have found that people with conservative views have brains with larger amygdalas, almond-shaped areas in the centre of the brain often associated with anxiety and emotions, London's Daily Telegraph reports.
They also have smaller anterior cingulate, an area at the front of the brain associated with courage and looking on the bright side of life, than those from the opposite end of the political spectrum.
The research was carried out by scientists at University College London, who scanned the brains of two members of parliament and 90 students.
The study found that the size of the two areas of the brain related directly to the political views of the volunteers.
However because the volunteers were all adults, it was hard to say whether they had been born that way, or whether their brains had developed through experience.
Geraint Rees, director of the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, said he was “very surprised” by the finding, which is being peer reviewed before publication next year.
The study was commissioned as a light-hearted experiment by actor Colin Firth while guest editing BBC Radio's Today program, the Press Association reported. But it has now developed into a serious effort to discover whether we are programmed with a particular political view.
Professor Rees said although it was not precise enough to be able to predict someone's stance simply from a scan, there was “a strong correlation that reaches all our scientific tests of significance”.
“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,” he told the BBC program.
“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.”