Brain Science

Politics and Brain Size:

Conservatives have bigger brains... well, at least, the primitive parts of the brain are bigger.

Self-proclaimed right-wingers had a more pronounced amygdala - a primitive part of the brain associated with emotion while their political opponents from the opposite end of the spectrum had thicker anterior cingulates.
So, conservatives are primitive and emotional, and... wait a minute, didn't we read something else about the amygdala this week?
So what does the amygdala actually do? "[It's] strongly connected with almost every other structure in brain. In the past, people assumed it was really important for fear. Then they discovered it was actually important for all emotions. And it's also important for social interaction and face recognition," Barrett says. "The amygdala's job in general is to signal to the rest of brain when something that you're faced with is uncertain. For example, if you don't know who someone is, and you are trying to identify them, whether it is a friend or a foe, the amygdala is probably playing a role in helping you to perform all of those tasks."
That actually fits perfectly with existing research, showing that conservatives are more likely to perceive threats. This suggests why that might be true. It also suggests a direct physical unity between the adaptive quality of threat recognition and humanity's preferred method for dealing with threats. How do you deal with threats? You form a stronger troop: either a bigger one, or one with more complicated bonding structures to hold it together in the face of danger.

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