Left, right process risk differently

Feb. 16, 2013 at 10:39 PM
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EXETER, England, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- British researchers suggest liberals and conservatives use different parts of the brain when they assess risk and this is linked to their political leanings.

Dr. Darren Schreiber, a researcher in neuropolitics at the University of Exeter in England, working with colleagues at the University of California, San Diego, said previous research measured brain activity of 82 study participants as they played a simple gambling game.

Republicans and Democrats did not differ in the risks they took, the researchers found. However, a new analysis of the 82 people who performed the gambling task, found there were striking differences in the brain activity of participating Republicans and Democrats, Schreiber said.

Democrats showed significantly greater activity in the left insula, a region associated with social and self-awareness, while Republicans showed significantly greater activity in the right amygdala, a region involved in the body's fight-or-flight system.

The study, published in the journal Plos One, found brain activity in these two regions alone could be used to predict with 83 percent accuracy whether a person is a Democrat or Republican.

The longstanding traditional model in political science -- using the party affiliation of a person's mother and father to predict a child's affiliation -- is accurate about 69.5 percent of the time.

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