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Obama Brain Study? Neural Differences May Predict Political Predilection

obama brain study

An Obama brain study made news yesterday, with plans to map genomes over the long term grabbing headlines — but another recent study involves politics and the brain, albeit not entirely in the same way.

Yesterday’s Obama brain study story centered around an initiative to create a thorough “map” of neural activity, both to enhance the understanding of how our brains work and bolster our scientific credibility. In our coverage, we reported:

“”f successful, the Brain Activity Map Project will bring the same level of benefits to health and science research as the human genome project did for genetic research. In his State of the Union address, President Obama highlighted the economic effects of the gene mapping project. ‘Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy — every dollar,’ he said. Commentators are suggesting the Human Brain Map Project could return similar fiscal benefits.”

But another Obama brain study bit was released yesterday, concerning things we’ve already learned about our brains — and it involves likelihood of caucusing with certain political groups. This Obama brain study was not presidentially commissioned, but rather an in-depth look at how neural characteristics shape which lever we pull in the voting booth.

According to LiveScience, the study involved 35 men and 47 women, scattered across Republican and Democratic lines. Researchers measured risk-taking behavior in areas like gambling and found no difference, but their discovery when it came to political persuasion was a bit more compelling.

This Obama brain study revealed that while not-political risks were analogously likely, “brain processed risk worked differently between the groups, with Republicans showing more activity in an area linked with reward, fear and risky decisions and Democrats showing more activity in a spot related to processing emotion and internal body cues.”

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Or, if we can be so bold, fans of Obama in the brain study were more likely to be moved by feelings and impulses, while Romney voters were more moved by security and fear.

Of the results, Darren Schreiber of the University of Exeter (where the Obama brain study was carried out) said in a statement:

“The ability to accurately predict party politics using only brain activity while gambling suggests that investigating basic neural differences between voters may provide us with more powerful insights than the traditional tools of political science.”

Interestingly, researchers were able to predict a person’s political party accurately by examining their brain function 82.9 percent of the time.

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