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A Brain Scan Can Predict Your Political Leanings

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Differences between conservatives and liberals show up on MRIs.

Key points

Political neuroscience is a relatively new field of study that is helping researchers understand political differences.

Analysis of brain scans reveals significant differences in the brains of liberals and conservatives.

Researchers want to understand how brain structure and function are linked to political attitudes.

How does brain activity affect world politics? Political and psychological researchers at Ohio State University, New York University, and University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine can predict whether you are a conservative or a liberal through analysis of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans. Their current research confirms previous studies suggesting there are both biological and psychological differences in the brains of those who lean left and right.In a study published in the scientific journal PNAS Nexus , the researchers used fMRI data to analyze the brain activity of 174 volunteers, aged 18 to 40 years, and of varying political ideologies, while performing various tasks. The tasks involved emotional responses, memory retrieval, monetary (reward) incentive, and theory of mind, wherein the participant has to determine whether a statement is true or false. The researchers observed how functional connectivity networks in the brain differ […]

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