Neuroscience reveals brain differences between Republicans and Democrats

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 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…

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 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…

Here we go, again.

I’ve maintained for a long time – as have many sociologists – that you can keep on learning well beyond the typical 26-year-old threshold. Which means to me you can reevaluate, make decisions afresh from acquired knowledge.

I understand where the good doctor is going with the hard-wired portion of the dialectic. I just think the redirective capabilities of the human mind make it possible for someone to move beyond social reflexes.

But, then, I look at George W. Bush getting re-elected in 2004 and wonder, “what the hell do I know?”

7 thoughts on “Neuroscience reveals brain differences between Republicans and Democrats

  1. rapsheetblog says:

    I have not read the original study, but there’s certainly a flaw in the synopsis. Just because a difference is detected in two brains does not mean that the difference is “hard-wired”. The brain is enormously plastic and is shaped by our experiences throughout life.

      • rapsheetblog says:

        I think you missed my point. My point wasn’t that they didn’t find differences, but that one can’t conclude the differences are “hard wired” without studying individual people over time. The researchers themselves do say this: “The (brain) differences could be a result of genetics, experiences, or a combination of both.” That’s my only point.

  2. angrymanspeaks says:

    Perhaps predisposed would be a better word than hard wired. I doubt it though. My personal experience is that I was only wired by the opinions of my family. My brother, my mother etc.

    I held those opinions until my personal life experience taught me that Republicans never put people first. They may care for others; as long as they are supporters and they aren’t in some way preventing the progress of their Republican fortune.

    I also learned that many Democrats claim to care about people but are secretly just like the Republicans or worse. Why so?
    Because the Democratic Party is the perfect place for cold-blooded predators to hide.

    I am of course; a registered Democrat. What other choice is there for one of my ilk?

    Well; when I was 14; I was a serious Republican. A Nixon supporter at 14, I worked for the local campaign office handing out flyers and doing whatever else I could to get my man; Richard Nixon re-elected.

    This only after my first choice; George Wallace was gunned down.

    I liked George. He was from the South; he believed in “Solid American Values”; keeping the Blacks “in their place”; not being unkind but benevolently keeping them calm so we “Adults: could go on with the business of;
    BEING AMERICANS; God-damn-it! And WHITE.

    Yep. I don’t talk about this shit too much. Some folks still give me some pretty hard looks even though I explain that I got the hell out of that way of thinking AS SOON as I learned the truth.
    To be honest; I allow myself to hold a small colonel of pride in myself. I wasn’t converted. Nobody I knew asked me to change my attitude. I just met people. Black people.

    This is why I disagree with the Hard Wired theory. I disprove it. Many others across America disprove it too.

    All this theory is; is an excuse for those who don’t give a shit about those less fortunate than themselves to justify their horrific treatment of those people.

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