Political leanings and the mind/brain connection

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Political leanings and the mind/brain connection

Post by halfwise on Sun Feb 17, 2013 2:22 pm

From the online section of Smithsonian Magazine:

Study Predicts Political Beliefs with 83% Accuracy

If you want to know people’s politics, tradition said to study their parents. In fact, the party affiliation of someone’s parents can predict the child’s political leanings about around 70 percent of the time.

But new research, published yesterday in the journal PLOS ONE, suggests what mom and dad think isn’t the endgame when it comes to shaping a person’s political identity. Ideological differences between partisans may reflect distinct neural processes, and they can predict who’s right and who’s left of center with 82.9 percent accuracy, outperforming the “your parents pick your party” model. It also out-predicts another neural model based on differences in brain structure, which distinguishes liberals from conservatives with 71.6 percent accuracy.

The study matched publicly available party registration records with the names of 82 American participants whose risk-taking behavior during a gambling experiment was monitored by brain scans. The researchers found that liberals and conservatives don’t differ in the risks they do or don’t take, but their brain activity does vary while they’re making decisions.

The idea that the brains of Democrats and Republicans may be hard-wired to their beliefs is not new. Previous research has shown that during MRI scans, areas linked to broad social connectedness, which involves friends and the world at large, light up in Democrats’ brains. Republicans, on the other hand, show more neural activity in parts of the brain associated with tight social connectedness, which focuses on family and country.

Other scans have shown that brain regions associated with risk and uncertainty, such as the fear-processing amygdala, differ in structure in liberals and conservatives. And different architecture means different behavior. Liberals tend to seek out novelty and uncertainty, while conservatives exhibit strong changes in attitude to threatening situations. The former are more willing to accept risk, while the latter tends to have more intense physical reactions to threatening stimuli.

Building on this, the new research shows that Democrats exhibited significantly greater activity in the left insula, a region associated with social and self-awareness, during the task. Republicans, however, showed significantly greater activity in the right amygdala, a region involved in our fight-or flight response system.

“If you went to Vegas, you won’t be able to tell who’s a Democrat or who’s a Republican, but the fact that being a Republican changes how your brain processes risk and gambling is really fascinating,” says lead researcher Darren Schreiber, a University of Exeter professor who’s currently teaching at Central European University in Budapest. “It suggests that politics alters our worldview and alters the way our brains process.”

Politics isn’t the first to cause structural changes in the brain. More than a decade ago, researchers used brain scans to show that London cab drivers’ gray matter grew larger to help them store a mental map of the city. There more time they spent on the road, the bigger their hippocampi, an area associated with navigation, became.

This implies that despite the political leanings seen through our brains, how we vote—and thus the cause of our political affiliations—may not be set in stone, Schreiber says.

“If we believe that we’re hardwired for our political views, then it’s really easy for me to discount in you in a conversation. ‘Oh, you’re just a conservative because you have a red brain,’ or ‘Oh, you’re a liberal because you have a blue brain,’” Schreiber explains. “But that’s just not the case. The brain changes. The brain is dynamic.”



Read more: http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/science/2013/02/study-predicts-political-beliefs-with-83-percent-accuracy/#ixzz2LAN3MY9M

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Re: Political leanings and the mind/brain connection

Post by halfwise on Sun Feb 17, 2013 3:18 pm

Though of course it would be easier to just ask them....

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Re: Political leanings and the mind/brain connection

Post by David H on Sun Feb 17, 2013 3:20 pm

Interesting!

It seems to support the old wisdom that there are two kinds of people in this world: those who divide the world into two kinds of people and those who don't.
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Re: Political leanings and the mind/brain connection

Post by halfwise on Sun Feb 17, 2013 3:26 pm

I thought it was also interesting that the actions during gambling were indistinguishable, just the brain responses. It means maybe our dratted congress COULD compromise if they just leave all the social theory out and just look at the final result.

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Re: Political leanings and the mind/brain connection

Post by David H on Sun Feb 17, 2013 3:35 pm

That's a very optimistic way of looking at it. But remember we're only talking about risk taking behavior, so I think it more likely just means that both sides of the isle can be equally corrupt, just for different reasons. Rolling Eyes
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Re: Political leanings and the mind/brain connection

Post by Eldorion on Sun Feb 17, 2013 4:56 pm

For some reason they left the most important sentence in the article for the very end:

“If we believe that we’re hardwired for our political views, then it’s really easy for me to discount in you in a conversation. ‘Oh, you’re just a conservative because you have a red brain,’ or ‘Oh, you’re a liberal because you have a blue brain,’” Schreiber explains. “But that’s just not the case. The brain changes. The brain is dynamic.”
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Re: Political leanings and the mind/brain connection

Post by Mrs Figg on Sun Feb 17, 2013 5:26 pm

TAXI DRIVER ESCAPES DEATH AFTER KILLING HIPPOPOTAMUS HIPPOCAMPUS

Updated Tuesday, October 9 2012 at 00:00 GMT+3

By James Munyeki

A taxi driver on Monday escaped death narrowly when the vehicle he was driving rammed into a hippopotamus at Manguo village, along the Nyahururu-Nyeri road.

Edward Gitahi was driving home at about 1:00am when he came across a herd of hippopotamuses crossing the road and as he made frantic efforts to avoid hitting them, he lost control of the vehicle, which hit one of the animals killing it on the spot.


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Re: Political leanings and the mind/brain connection

Post by chris63 on Mon Feb 18, 2013 3:41 am

Hippo's have spots ? Maybe its mother dated a leopard Embarassed

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Re: Political leanings and the mind/brain connection

Post by azriel on Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:00 pm

Laughing

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Re: Political leanings and the mind/brain connection

Post by CC12 35 on Mon Feb 18, 2013 5:12 pm

hi

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Re: Political leanings and the mind/brain connection

Post by Eldorion on Mon Feb 18, 2013 5:14 pm

Yo
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Re: Political leanings and the mind/brain connection

Post by CC12 35 on Mon Feb 18, 2013 5:31 pm

That was my Valentine's Day wish too!!!

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Re: Political leanings and the mind/brain connection

Post by Orwell on Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:38 pm

I'm with Eldo (I think? scratch ). Environment and neural plasticity seem to be the common factors.

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Re: Political leanings and the mind/brain connection

Post by halfwise on Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:49 pm

All it's showing is different thought processes that could have been discovered as well with a good questionaire. The brain activity is something of a red herring since it should be obvious by now that different parts of the brain light up during different thinking processes; it doesn't indicate the hardware is different, just the mental software. But the brain activity scan is actually a quicker way of getting at the result than inflicting a set of questions, which I think is kind of neat.

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Re: Political leanings and the mind/brain connection

Post by azriel on Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:49 pm



This was on a BBC programne, very lengthy report,
Scientists are set to release the first batch of data from a project designed to create the first map of the human brain.

The project could help shed light on why some people are naturally scientific, musical or artistic.

Some of the first images were shown at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Boston.

I found out how researchers are developing new brain imaging techniques for the project by having my own brain scanned.

Scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital are pushing brain imaging to its limit using a purpose built scanner. It is one of the most powerful scanners in the world.

The scanner's magnets need 22MW of electricity - enough to power a nuclear submarine.

The researchers invited me to have my brain scanned. I was asked if I wanted "the 10-minute job or the 45-minute 'full monty'" which would give one of the most detailed scans of the brain ever carried out. Only 50 such scans have ever been done.

I

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Re: Political leanings and the mind/brain connection

Post by halfwise on Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:06 pm

Looks like the bottom was cut off the text.

If it only takes 45 minutes, why on 50 scans? Really new technology?

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Re: Political leanings and the mind/brain connection

Post by azriel on Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:16 pm

It was a pleasant experience enclosed in the scanner's vast twin magnets. Powerful and rapidly changing magnetic fields were looking to see tiny particles of water travelling along the larger nerve fibres.

By following the droplets, the scientists in the adjoining cubicle are able to trace the major connections within my brain.
Arcs of understanding

The result was a 3D computer image that revealed the important pathways of my brain in vivid colour. One of the lead researchers, Professor Van Wedeen, gave me a guided tour of the inside of my head.

He showed me the connection that helped me to see and another one that helped me understand speech. There were twin arcs that processed my emotions and a bundle that connected the left and right sides of my brain.

Prof Wedeen used visualisation software that enabled him to fly around and through these pathways - even to zoom in to see intricate details.

He and his team hope to learn how the human mind works and what happens when it goes wrong

"We have all these mental health problems and our method for understanding them has really not changed for over a hundred years," he said.

"We don't have imaging methods as we do for the heart to tell what's really going on. Wouldn't it be fantastic if we could get in there and see these things and give people advice concerning what their risks are and how we could help them overcome those problems?"

The brain imaging technology is being developed for a US-led effort to map the human brain called the Human Connectome Project.

And just as with the Human Genome Project before it, the data will be publicly released to scientists as the scans are processed, with the first tranche of data from between 80 and a 100 people to be released in a few weeks' time.

The HCP is a five-year project funded by the National Institutes of Health. The aim the $40m programme is to map the entire human neural wiring system by scanning the brains of 1,200 Americans.

Researchers will also collect genetic and behavioural data from the subjects in order to build up a complete picture of the factors that influence the human psyche.
Continue reading the main story
Cingulum close up A close-up view of the centre of the brain looking back. The large green paths are the “cingulum” bundles, and connect areas of the frontal lobes that serve executive function with the hippocampus, which is the centre of memory. The large red bundle going left to right is a part of the corpus callosum, a huge bundle that connects the left and right sides of the brain.
Continue reading the main story
1/5

The brain's wiring diagram is not like that of an electronic device which is fixed. It is thought that changes occur after each experience, and so each person's brain map is different - an ever changing record of who we are and what we have done.

The HCP will be able to test the hypothesis that minds differ as connectomes differ, according to Dr Tim Behrens of Oxford University, UK.

"We're likely to learn a lot about human behaviour," he told BBC News.

"Some of the connections between different parts of the brain might be different for people with different characters and abilities, so for example there's one connection we already know about in people who like taking risks and (a different one) for people who like playing it safe.

"So we'll be able to tell the type of people who like skydiving and who would rather watch TV from their brain scans.

"It will be an amazing resource for the neuroscience community to help them in their work to understand how the brain works," he said.

Prof Steve Petersen, who works with the HCP at Washington University in St Louis, wants to identify the different parts of the brain involved with our ability to think about scientific problems, to concentrate and to hold information in our memory.

"The romance to me is that we are getting to our humanity," he said.
This is the full text I found on BBC, the programne was interesting tho, seeing it happen Very Happy Im thinking if they did that sort of scan on MY bonts, Im sure theyde find BIG gaps Wink

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Re: Political leanings and the mind/brain connection

Post by halfwise on Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:32 pm

There is a lot of comedic potential....

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Re: Political leanings and the mind/brain connection

Post by Orwell on Tue Feb 19, 2013 5:20 am

If they can find the place in brain that deals with generating youthful good looks I'd be most appreciative. Nod

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Re: Political leanings and the mind/brain connection

Post by halfwise on Tue Feb 19, 2013 12:56 pm

In other peoples eyes? Just give them a bottle....

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Re: Political leanings and the mind/brain connection

Post by Mrs Figg on Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:10 pm

if they could locate the part of the brain that stamps on verbal diarrhea during interviews I would appreciate it. Mad

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Re: Political leanings and the mind/brain connection

Post by halfwise on Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:37 pm

Uh-oh. Were you a gushing chatterbox? Maybe I shouldn't have encouraged you too much to portray excitement about the field. Embarassed

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Re: Political leanings and the mind/brain connection

Post by Ally on Tue Feb 19, 2013 5:05 pm

I get that

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Re: Political leanings and the mind/brain connection

Post by Mrs Figg on Tue Feb 19, 2013 5:06 pm

I was terrified, and that caused the waffling bumbling incoherent blathering. it will be an absolute miracle if I get a place. The frustrating thing is that I know my shit, but its been a long time since I had to verbally communicate complicated stuff in English. its ok writing it down but I got tongue tied. Anyway I have another interview next week, also by phone, so at least I got some practice and pointers. pale No

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Re: Political leanings and the mind/brain connection

Post by halfwise on Tue Feb 19, 2013 5:14 pm

Oh drat. I guess writing english isn't the same a speaking it, but even people who aren't embedded in a foreign country get tongue-tied. Should be better the next time, but only if you can blow off the first time as a what-the-hell moment.

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