Brains Hard-Wired to Swing Left or Right

Liberals deal with ambiguity better; conservatives are single-minded
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 10, 2007 3:59 AM CDT
From left, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scopetta, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y. look as the names of fallen firefighters...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The brains of conservatives and liberals function in fundamentally different ways—with liberals more capable of accepting ambiguity and conflict, and conservative better able to pursue a single-minded course. That's the conclusion of  a new study on the neurobiology of politics, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

The experiment, based on how well subjects recognized two letters on a computer screen, tracked activity in part of the brain that detects conflicts between a habitual response—pressing a key for the most frequently flashed letter—and a considered response—recognizing when not to press a key. Results show "there are two cognitive styles -- a liberal style and a conservative style," said one neurologist.