Thursday, December 30, 2010

Who Decides Your Political Beliefs?

Have your political views been predetermined by your brain structure or has your brain structure changed as a result of your views? Is it possible that you were born with right or left leanings? A fascinating new study conducted by scientists at University College London should spark not only interesting political debate, but raise some questions about nature versus nurture as well.
Colin Firth commissioned this study and he says he did so as "fairly frivolous exercise." The British actor says he wanted to find out what was biologically wrong with people who disagree with him.
ILLUSTRATION OF BRAIN SHOWING OLFACTORY BULB, AMYGDALA, HIPPOCAMPUS, HYPOTHALAMUS AND PITUITARY ILLUS BRAIN OFACTORY BULB PITUITARY HYPOTHALAMUSThe University College London scientists scanned the brains of 90 students and those of both a conservative and liberal member of Parliament. They found that individuals with conservative tendencies have a larger amygdala. This is the region of the brain though to be responsible for emotions like fear. This region in the center of the brain was recently the subject of news articles about a woman who couldn't experience fear because her amygdala was damaged. It would be interesting to know what her political views are.
Scientists also discovered that the area at the front of the brain known as anterior cingulate was smaller in the brains of conservative thinkers. This area is thought to be responsible for courage and optimism.