Sunday, 29 January 2006

Unthinking Partisanship Literally True

Via Entirely Madd, an article from Science Daily that fits both under "politics" and "brains".
Emory University scientists say political partisans of both parties apparently don't let facts interfere with their judgments on political issues.

The researchers wanted to discover why Democrats and Republicans can hear the same information, but reach opposite conclusions.

The investigators used functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, to study a sample of committed Democrats and Republicans immediately prior to the 2004 U.S. presidential election.

The participants were asked to evaluate threatening information about their own candidate while undergoing fMRI. The scientists say what they found was striking.

"We did not see any increased activation of the parts of the brain normally engaged during reasoning," said Drew Westen, director of clinical psychology at Emory who led the study. "What we saw instead was a network of emotion circuits lighting up."

Once partisans reached completely biased conclusions -- essentially ignoring information that couldn't be rationally discounted -- they then got a blast of activation in circuits involved in reward.

"None of the circuits involved in conscious reasoning were particularly engaged," he said.

The findings are to be presented during this week's annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in Palm Springs, Calif.
Something all political bloggesr should be aware of.

Recently, I've become rather intrigued by the role of Hormones in the functioning of the human brain. Funny that, can't think why...

Anywa, here's some intersting data about the hormone Oxytocin. First, from Science Daily :
Oxytocin Molecular StructureScientists at the National Institute of Mental Health have discovered how a brain chemical recently found to boost trust appears to work.

A brain imaging study suggests the hormone reduces activity and weakens connections in fear-processing circuitry.

Scans of the hormone oxytocin's effect on human brain function reveal it quells the brain's fear hub, the amygdala, and its brainstem relay stations in response to fearful stimuli. That suggests new approaches to treating diseases thought to involve amygdala dysfunction and social fear, such as social phobia, autism and possibly schizophrenia

Dr. Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg and her NIMH colleagues detail their research in the Dec. 7 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.
And from :
Because oxytocin is released in men and women during sexual orgasm, it may be involved in adult bonding, said Turner. There is also speculation that in addition to facilitating lactation and the birthing process, the hormone facilitates the emotional bond between mother and child.

"Evolutionarily speaking, it makes sense that during pregnancy and the postpartum, both a woman's body and her mind would be stimulated to nurture her child," said Turner.

Oxytocin may also play a role in the higher levels of depression and interpersonal stress seen in women, said Turner. According to most psychiatrists, women experience depression twice as often as men and tend to be more affected by relationship difficulties.

More over at Wikipedia.

No comments: