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News: Neuroscience reveals brain differences between Republicans and Democrats

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  • Robert Karl Stonjek
    Neuroscience reveals brain differences between Republicans and Democrats November 1st, 2012 in Neuroscience With the U.S. presidential election just days away,
    Message 1 of 8 , Nov 2, 2012
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      Neuroscience reveals brain differences between Republicans and Democrats

      November 1st, 2012 in Neuroscience

      With the U.S. presidential election just days away, new research from the University of South Carolina provides fresh evidence that choosing a candidate may depend more on our biological make-up than a careful analysis of issues.

      That's because the brains of self-identified Democrats and Republicans are hard-wired differently and may be naturally inclined to hold varying, if not opposing, perceptions and values. The USC study, which analyzed MRI scans of 24 USC students, builds on existing research in the emerging field of political neuroscience.

      "The differences are significant and real," said lead researcher Roger D. Newman-Norlund, an assistant professor of exercise science in the Arnold School of Public Health and the director of USC's new Brain Simulation Laboratory.

      The study focused on the mirror neuron system, a network of brain areas linked to a host of social and emotional abilities. After declaring their political affiliation, The subjects were given questionnaires designed to gauge their attitudes on a range of select political issues. Next, they were given "resting state" MRIs which made it possible to analyze the strength of connections within the mirror neuron system in both the left and right hemispheres of their brains; specifically the inferior frontal gyrus, supramarginal gyrus and angular gyrus.

      The results found more neural activity in areas believed to be linked with broad social connectedness in Democrats (friends, the world at-large) and more activity in areas linked with tight social connectedness in the Republicans (family, country). In some ways the study confirms a stereotype about members of the two parties—Democrats tend to be more global and Republicans more America-centric—but it actually runs counter to other recent research indicating Democrats enjoyed a virtual lock on caring for others.

      "The results were a little surprising," Newman-Norlund said. "This shows the picture is more complicated. One possible explanation for our results is that Democrats and Republicans process social connectedness in a fudamentally different manner."

      While political neuroscience and study is still largely in its infancy, the implications for future races could be big as politicians and campaign strategists learn how to exploit brain differences to make more effective, biologically targeted appeals to voters.

      The research also suggests that maintaining an open mind about political issues may be easier said than done. In fact, bridging partisan divides and acting contrary to ideological preferences likely requires going against deeply ingrained biological tendencies. And while there is evidence that mirror neuron connections can change over time, it's not something that happens overnight, Newman-Norlund said.

      "The (brain) differences could be a result of genetics, experiences, or a combination of both," he said. "It takes a lot of effort to see the other side and we're not going to wake up one day and all start getting along."

      Understanding the differences and their origins, however, is a step in the right direction, he said.

      Provided by University of South Carolina

      "Neuroscience reveals brain differences between Republicans and Democrats." November 1st, 2012. http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-11-neuroscience-reveals-brain-differences-republicans.html

      Posted by
      Robert Karl Stonjek

    • clarence_sonny_williams
      This is embarrassing to neuroscience. Males and females are more divergent in how their brains process socially salient information than Democrats and
      Message 2 of 8 , Nov 2, 2012
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        This is embarrassing to neuroscience. Males and females are more
        divergent in how their brains process socially salient information than
        Democrats and Republicans...and there is no mistaking their identity.
        Using 24 undergraduates at USC who self-identify as Republican or
        Democrat means the study begins with a fuzzy population. And then we
        use a fuzzy measurement of the brain's "hot spots" of those "fuzzily
        segmented" subjects? Worthless!

        --- In evolutionary-psychology@yahoogroups.com, "Robert Karl Stonjek"
        <stonjek@...> wrote:
        >
        >
        >
        > Neuroscience reveals brain differences between Republicans and
        Democrats
        > November 1st, 2012 in Neuroscience
        >
        >
        > With the U.S. presidential election just days away, new research from
        the University of South Carolina provides fresh evidence that choosing a
        candidate may depend more on our biological make-up than a careful
        analysis of issues.
        >
        > That's because the brains of self-identified Democrats and Republicans
        are hard-wired differently and may be naturally inclined to hold
        varying, if not opposing, perceptions and values. The USC study, which
        analyzed MRI scans of 24 USC students, builds on existing research in
        the emerging field of political neuroscience.
        >
        > "The differences are significant and real," said lead researcher Roger
        D. Newman-Norlund, an assistant professor of exercise science in the
        Arnold School of Public Health and the director of USC's new Brain
        Simulation Laboratory.
        >
        > The study focused on the mirror neuron system, a network of brain
        areas linked to a host of social and emotional abilities. After
        declaring their political affiliation, The subjects were given
        questionnaires designed to gauge their attitudes on a range of select
        political issues. Next, they were given "resting state" MRIs which made
        it possible to analyze the strength of connections within the mirror
        neuron system in both the left and right hemispheres of their brains;
        specifically the inferior frontal gyrus, supramarginal gyrus and angular
        gyrus.
        >
        > The results found more neural activity in areas believed to be linked
        with broad social connectedness in Democrats (friends, the world
        at-large) and more activity in areas linked with tight social
        connectedness in the Republicans (family, country). In some ways the
        study confirms a stereotype about members of the two parties-Democrats
        tend to be more global and Republicans more America-centric-but it
        actually runs counter to other recent research indicating Democrats
        enjoyed a virtual lock on caring for others.
        >
        > "The results were a little surprising," Newman-Norlund said. "This
        shows the picture is more complicated. One possible explanation for our
        results is that Democrats and Republicans process social connectedness
        in a fudamentally different manner."
        >
        > While political neuroscience and study is still largely in its
        infancy, the implications for future races could be big as politicians
        and campaign strategists learn how to exploit brain differences to make
        more effective, biologically targeted appeals to voters.
        >
        > The research also suggests that maintaining an open mind about
        political issues may be easier said than done. In fact, bridging
        partisan divides and acting contrary to ideological preferences likely
        requires going against deeply ingrained biological tendencies. And while
        there is evidence that mirror neuron connections can change over time,
        it's not something that happens overnight, Newman-Norlund said.
        >
        > "The (brain) differences could be a result of genetics, experiences,
        or a combination of both," he said. "It takes a lot of effort to see the
        other side and we're not going to wake up one day and all start getting
        along."
        >
        > Understanding the differences and their origins, however, is a step in
        the right direction, he said.
        >
        > Provided by University of South Carolina
        >
        >
        > "Neuroscience reveals brain differences between Republicans and
        Democrats." November 1st, 2012.
        http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-11-neuroscience-reveals-brain-differe\
        nces-republicans.html
        >
        > Posted by
        > Robert Karl Stonjek
        >
      • hibbsa
        ... than ... Why are you assuming there is no worth to this work, just because there are lots of ways to interpret what they have done in ways that don t make
        Message 3 of 8 , Nov 2, 2012
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          > This is embarrassing to neuroscience. Males and females are more
          > divergent in how their brains process socially salient information
          than
          > Democrats and Republicans...and there is no mistaking their identity.
          > Using 24 undergraduates at USC who self-identify as Republican or
          > Democrat means the study begins with a fuzzy population. And then we
          > use a fuzzy measurement of the brain's "hot spots" of those "fuzzily
          > segmented" subjects? Worthless!

          Why are you assuming there is no worth to this work, just because there
          are lots of ways to interpret what they have done in ways that don't
          make sense? You have suggested one explanation above that you rightly
          regard as not making sense. But is that explanation the explanation that
          they are using? Or is it one you have come up with as a candidate? If
          the latter, how interesting is it, scientifically, to set up and then
          refute, a stupid explanation?

          <snip>
        • Julienne
          ... Well, okay - but, Sonny, no neuroscientist is very sure yet of the so-called differences between generic male and female brains. We have to start
          Message 4 of 8 , Nov 3, 2012
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            At 09:19 AM 11/2/2012, clarence_sonny_williams wrote:
            >This is embarrassing to neuroscience. Males and females are more
            >divergent in how their brains process socially salient information than
            >Democrats and Republicans...and there is no mistaking their identity.
            >Using 24 undergraduates at USC who self-identify as Republican or
            >Democrat means the study begins with a fuzzy population. And then we
            >use a fuzzy measurement of the brain's "hot spots" of those "fuzzily
            >segmented" subjects? Worthless!


            Well, okay - but, Sonny, no neuroscientist is very sure yet of the
            so-called differences between generic male and female brains.

            We have to start somewhere...

            Julienne

            >--- In evolutionary-psychology@yahoogroups.com, "Robert Karl Stonjek"
            ><stonjek@...> wrote:
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > > Neuroscience reveals brain differences between Republicans and
            >Democrats
            > > November 1st, 2012 in Neuroscience
            > >

            The selection of a Republican candidate for the presidency of this
            globalized and expansive empire is - and I say this seriously - the
            greatest competition of idiocy and ignorance that has ever been.
            Fidel Castro. January 2012
          • clarence_sonny_williams
            Julienne, I beg to disagree. Neuroscience has identified many physiological and functional differences between male and female brains. There is widespread
            Message 5 of 8 , Nov 4, 2012
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              Julienne,

              I beg to disagree. Neuroscience has identified many physiological and
              functional differences between male and female brains. There is
              widespread agreement on most of these significant differences. Would
              you like me to recommend several books written by females that
              extensively discuss the differences?

              --- In evolutionary-psychology@yahoogroups.com, Julienne <julienne@...>
              wrote:
              >
              > At 09:19 AM 11/2/2012, clarence_sonny_williams wrote:
              > >This is embarrassing to neuroscience. Males and females are more
              > >divergent in how their brains process socially salient information
              than
              > >Democrats and Republicans...and there is no mistaking their identity.
              > >Using 24 undergraduates at USC who self-identify as Republican or
              > >Democrat means the study begins with a fuzzy population. And then we
              > >use a fuzzy measurement of the brain's "hot spots" of those "fuzzily
              > >segmented" subjects? Worthless!
              >
              >
              > Well, okay - but, Sonny, no neuroscientist is very sure yet of the
              > so-called differences between generic male and female brains.
              >
              > We have to start somewhere...
              >
              > Julienne
              >
              > >--- In evolutionary-psychology@yahoogroups.com, "Robert Karl Stonjek"
              > >stonjek@ wrote:
              > > >
              > > >
              > > >
              > > > Neuroscience reveals brain differences between Republicans and
              > >Democrats
              > > > November 1st, 2012 in Neuroscience
              > > >
              >
              > The selection of a Republican candidate for the presidency of this
              > globalized and expansive empire is - and I say this seriously - the
              > greatest competition of idiocy and ignorance that has ever been.
              > Fidel Castro. January 2012
              >
            • Julienne
              ... Thank you very much, Sonny. My son is a neuroscientist - I read his writings among others, and have for years. Julienne
              Message 6 of 8 , Nov 4, 2012
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                At 07:42 AM 11/4/2012, clarence_sonny_williams wrote:
                >Julienne,
                >
                >I beg to disagree. Neuroscience has identified many physiological and
                >functional differences between male and female brains. There is
                >widespread agreement on most of these significant differences. Would
                >you like me to recommend several books written by females that
                >extensively discuss the differences?

                Thank you very much, Sonny. My son is a neuroscientist - I read his
                writings among others,
                and have for years.


                Julienne

                <snip>
              • clarence_sonny_williams
                Well then, why in the world did you say something different???? You said, Well, okay - but, Sonny, no neuroscientist is very sure yet of the so-called
                Message 7 of 8 , Nov 5, 2012
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                  Well then, why in the world did you say something different????

                  You said, "Well, okay - but, Sonny, no neuroscientist is very sure yet
                  of the so-called differences between generic male and female brains."
                  Surely, your neuroscientist Son has informed you that he and 99% of his
                  peers are VERY SURE of differences between "generic male and female
                  brains" (although "normal" is a better term than "generic").

                  --- In evolutionary-psychology@yahoogroups.com, Julienne <julienne@...>
                  wrote:
                  >
                  > At 07:42 AM 11/4/2012, clarence_sonny_williams wrote:
                  > >Julienne,
                  > >
                  > >I beg to disagree. Neuroscience has identified many physiological
                  and
                  > >functional differences between male and female brains. There is
                  > >widespread agreement on most of these significant differences. Would
                  > >you like me to recommend several books written by females that
                  > >extensively discuss the differences?
                  >
                  > Thank you very much, Sonny. My son is a neuroscientist - I read his
                  > writings among others,
                  > and have for years.
                  >
                  >
                  > Julienne
                  >
                  > <snip>
                  >
                • Julienne
                  ... I stand by what I said, Sonny - they are still exploring what differences there might be, and the extent of them. They are not all black and white and
                  Message 8 of 8 , Nov 5, 2012
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                    At 08:25 AM 11/5/2012, clarence_sonny_williams wrote:
                    >Well then, why in the world did you say something different????
                    >
                    >You said, "Well, okay - but, Sonny, no neuroscientist is very sure yet
                    >of the so-called differences between generic male and female brains."
                    >Surely, your neuroscientist Son has informed you that he and 99% of his
                    >peers are VERY SURE of differences between "generic male and female
                    >brains" (although "normal" is a better term than "generic").

                    I stand by what I said, Sonny - they are still exploring what differences
                    there might be, and the extent of them. They are not all black and white
                    and definitive.

                    99% of anything is very tricky. :))) All neuroscientists don't necessarily
                    agree on anything. :) It would be wonderful if there were one science
                    where there were 99% agreement.:))

                    BTW - I don't quote my son - not by name, anyway.

                    Julienne

                    <Snip>
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