Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Political Brain No.2


Ha! There is a follow-up on the studies I commented on more than a year ago on brain responses to political messages (read that post - it is detailed and involved).

Via Scientific Activist, comes this New York Times article on the latest MRI brain scanning of partisan Republicans and Democrats.

The subjects were given contradictory statements by either Bush or Kerry. For instance a statement by Bush defending Ken Lay followed shortly afterwards by a statement by Bush distancing himself from Ken Lay (or Kerry flip-flopping on overhauling Social Security). The MRI monitored what the brains did while resolving the cognitive dissonance. Do you think any rational reasoning went into this? Think twice:
….After the participants read the contradictory comment, the researchers measured increased activity in several areas of the brain. They included a region involved in regulating negative emotions and another called the cingulate, which activates when the brain makes judgments about forgiveness, among other things. Also, a spike appeared in several areas known to be active when people feel relieved or rewarded. The "cold reasoning" regions of the cortex were relatively quiet.
Yup. Pleasure. Enjoying what your candidate is saying and his voice while saying it no matter what the substance was.

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