Brain scans can predict political ideology, US study finds

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KUALA LUMPUR (June 4): A new study has found that brain scans can predict which political party someone supports.

A team from Ohio State University (OSU) reported that certain “signatures” in the brain precisely align with how someone leans politically – as conservatives or liberals.

The study is the largest to date to use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans of the brain to study political ideology.

In a June 2 statement, the OSU said brain scans of people taken while performing various tasks — and even doing nothing — accurately predicted whether they were politically conservative or liberal, according to the world’s largest study. gender.

The researchers found that the “signatures” in the brain revealed by the scans were as accurate in predicting political ideology as the strongest predictor typically used in political science research, namely the ideology of a woman’s parents. nobody.

Study co-author Skyler Cranmer, Phillips and Henry Professor of Political Science at OSU, said the findings suggest the biological and neurological roots of political behavior run much deeper than previously thought. .

OSU said the researchers also looked at functional connectivity in the brain and how it relates to a person’s political orientation.

Functional connectivity refers to how different regions of the brain display similar patterns of activity when a person performs certain tasks.

The report states that in simple terms, these regions communicate and work together when focused on a task.

“Your Brain Talks Politics – Even When You’re Not!” OSU said.

The university said the study authors used state-of-the-art artificial intelligence programs and other resources from the Ohio Supercomputer Center to analyze the brain scans.

They found strong links between these analyzes and how participants responded to questions rating their political ideology on a six-point scale – ranging from “very liberal” to “very conservative”.

OSU said the eight tasks completed by the 174 participants during this test did not focus on politics.

Even so, their answers gave the researchers an indication of their political leanings and matched the differences in the MRI results.

Study co-author Seo Eun Yang, a former doctoral student at OSU, said none of the eight tasks were designed to elicit partisan responses.

“But we found that the analyzes of the eight tasks were related to their identification as liberal or conservative,” she said.

She said that moreover, even when participants sat quietly and thought of nothing, MRIs revealed differences in the appearance of the brains of conservatives and liberals.

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