Kanai, R; Feilden, T; Firth, C; Rees, G; (2011) Political Orientations Are Correlated with Brain Structure in Young Adults. CURR BIOL , 21 (8) 677 - 680. 10.1016/j.cub.2011.03.017.
Substantial differences exist in the cognitive styles of liberals and conservatives on psychological measures . Variability in political attitudes reflects genetic influences and their interaction with environmental factors [2, 3]. Recent work has shown a correlation between liberalism and conflict-related activity measured by event-related potentials originating in the anterior cingulate cortex . Here we show that this functional correlate of political attitudes has a counterpart in brain structure. In a large sample of young adults, we related self-reported political attitudes to gray matter volume using structural MRI. We found that greater liberalism was associated with increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex, whereas greater conservatism was associated with increased volume of the right amygdala. These results were replicated in an independent sample of additional participants. Our findings extend previous observations that political attitudes reflect differences in self-regulatory conflict monitoring  and recognition of emotional faces  by showing that such attitudes are reflected in human brain structure. Although our data do not determine whether these regions play a causal role in the formation of political attitudes, they converge with previous work [4,6] to suggest a possible link between brain structure and psychological mechanisms that mediate political attitudes.
|Title:||Political Orientations Are Correlated with Brain Structure in Young Adults|
|Open access status:||An open access publication|
|Publisher version:||http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/ articles/PMC3092984/?tool=pubmed|
|Keywords:||ANTERIOR CINGULATE CORTEX, CONSERVATISM, AMYGDALA, UNCERTAINTY, IDEOLOGY, DISGUST|
|UCL classification:||UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Psychology and Language Sciences (Division of) > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience|
UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
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