The Jeff Wise Blog

Right Wingers and the Reptile Brain

If you happen to be of the left-leaning persuasion, I imagine that you will find the results of this recent study quite satisfying. Researchers in the UK asked test subjects about their political leanings, and then scanned their brains. Guess what? They found that liberals tended to have more volume in an area of the brain called the anterior cingulated cortex (ACC), a region associated with, among other things, decision making. Conservatives, on the other hand, showed more heft in the amygdala, the region associated with emotional memory and in particular with the processing of fear. Writes Time magazine:

These structural differences, the authors suggest, support previous reports of differences in personality: liberals tend to be better at managing conflicting information, while conservatives are thought to be better at recognizing threats, researchers said. “Previously, some psychological traits were known to be predictive of an individual’s political orientation,” said [lead researcher Ryota] Kanai in a press release. “Our study now links such personality traits with specific brain structure.”

If you wear Tevas and clothes made out of organically grown hemp, this will seem intuitively obvious. After all, liberals arrive at their views through logical reasoning, while conservatives operate on a purely emotion-driven level, like reptiles. Right?

┬áNot so fast. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Neuroscience

Thinking About Fear & the Brain

If I find myself in a severe crisis, will I be able to keep it together? How can I control anxiety and panic? Is it possible to lead a life less bounded by fear? These are the sorts of questions that I'll be exploring in this blog, an offshoot of my book, Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger, published on December 8, 2009 by Palgrave Macmillan.

Video Introduction

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