A researcher in Chicago has come up with empirical, scientific evidence that the brains of liberals and conservatives operate differently. And in particular, it appears that liberals show more flexibility in their thinking.
Sept. 10, 2007 12:00 AM
CHICAGO - The differences between liberals and conservatives may run deeper than how they feel about welfare reform or the Iraq war: Researchers reported Sunday that their brains may actually work differently.
Psychologist David Amodio, a professor at New York University, found that the brain's anterior cingulate cortex is more sensitive in people who consider themselves liberal.
The region helps people shift gears when responses would be inappropriate, backing the notion that liberals are more flexible in their thinking.
In the study, 43 students registered their political attitudes from extremely liberal to extremely conservative. Then they completed a computer test called "Go/No-Go" while their brain activity was tracked.
Subjects were told to quickly press "Go" each time the letter M flashed, but not when a W was displayed.
Amodio said the "Go" stimulus came up 400 out of 500 times, so "they're sitting there getting in the habit of pressing this button. But 20 percent of the time, the 'No Go' stimulus comes up; it's unexpected."
Subjects who rated themselves more liberal had higher scores for accuracy, Amodio said. But, more important, they also showed stronger electrical activity when the "No Go" cues were presented, indicating that more neurons were firing.
So liberals show more flexibility in their thinking, and it is because more neurons are firing. Aside from proving the old adage that conservatives only know one way to accomplish anything, it seems to suggest that liberals' brains are working harder.
So next time you meet a conservative, don't judge him or her too harshly. Conservatism may not be a matter of choice. It may be that he or she is suffering from a mental condition that causes a slower, less adaptable mode of thinking, of which conservatism is only a symptom.
Hmmmm... Most synapses have some kind of a chemical stimulus. So maybe we can work on developing a 'liberal pill,' which if taken in the proper doses will cure the conservative of this debilitating condition and allow for more rational thinking.