Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Telegraph... Political views 'hard-wired' into your brain

Editor’s Note: Sent by a reader… it’s a hoot! A couple comments are included…

From the London Telegraph…
Political views 'hard-wired' into your brain
Tories may be born not made, claims a study that suggests people with right wing views have a larger area of the brain associated with fear.
By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent, 28 Dec 2010

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.
On the otherhand, they have a smaller anterior cingulate, an area at the front of the brain associated with courage and looking on the bright side of life.
The "exciting" correlation was found by scientists at University College London who scanned the brains of two members of parliament and a number of students.
They found that the size of the two areas of the brain directly related to the political views of the volunteers.
However as they were all adults it was hard to say whether their brains had been born that way or had developed through experience.
Prof Geraint Rees, who led the research, said: "We were very surprised to find that there was an area of the brain that we could predict political attitude.
"It is very surprising because it does suggest there is something about political attitude that is encoded in our brain structure through our experience or that there is something in our brain structure that determines or results in political attitude."
Prof Rees and his team, who carried out the research for the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, looked at the brain make up of the Labour MP Stephen Pound and Alan Duncan, the Conservative Minister of State for International Development using a scanner.
They also questioned a further 90 students, who had already been scanned for other studies, about their political views.
The results, which will be published next year, back up a study that showed that some people were born with a "Liberal Gene" that makes people more likely to seek out less conventional political views.
The gene, a neurotransmitter in the brain called DRD4, could even be stimulated by the novelty value of radical opinions, claimed the researchers at the University of California

Comment 1…

This is a hysterical piece of research. But, it does show why those who refuse to take a smart approach to self defence in regards to gun and knife ownership yet enthusiastically study a martial art form by getting punched in the head repeatedly keep up the myth that unarmed physical combat is courageous and weaponised defence measures are clever & more so cowardly. Maybe the Liberal geared brain actually tries to destroy itself by training in headblow contact sports.

Comment 2…

Just a suggestion for Mr. Alleyne, but you really need to do a bit more research on current studies of the amygdalas and anterior cingulate. As stated in numerous studies, the amygdalas is actually linked to emotional MEMORY. In other words, the amygdalas is tied to enhanced memory because of the mental tie to emotions as well as events. Additionally the amygdalas has been linked to the DETECTION of fear and general emotions in others (specifically facial expressions), not the actual feeling of fear by the individual.
Just a suggestion, but if you are going to write an article like this, it would be best to actually do some research into what the parts of of the brain are supposed to do (from recent studies).

Comment 3…

Shame there isn't a greater study sample, but if you believe in the theories espoused by Robin Baker in Sperm Wars, Mother Nature inherently creates conservative/radical characteristics within individuals. This means that for example, siblings who are nurtured by the same parents within the same family attending the same school may have fundamentally different outlooks. Why? Well the 'conservative' sibling will for instance stay local and marry within one's own community, hence ‘conserve’ the local gene pool, whereas the 'radical' sibling will go further afield and hence increase the gene pool.
This is a completely rational strategy, and explains why some people, no matter what, will marry within their own cultural grouping, and others simply will not. If this somehow relates to the research in the above article, I for one am fascinated and would like greater depth of research. Interestingly I’d challenge those with siblings to see if this conservative/radical variation exists within your own families. It does in mine! Though of course I also believe culture/environment/propaganda plays a big part in shaping/expressing/repressing those inherent tendencies.

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