Skip to main content

Afternoon Shift

The political brain: Unpacking the link between political beliefs and brain structure

Previous Next

This is your brain.

( screenshot)

This is your brain on politics, at least according to msnbc.

( screenshot)

We may not have donkeys and elephants living in between our ears, but research does show a correlation between brain structure and the political beliefs we hold.

A report recently published online in Current Biology found that people who identified as liberal have larger anterior cingulate cortexes, and those who identify as conservative have larger amygdales.

At this point, it’s hard to say whether people’s political beliefs cause certain parts of the brain to get bigger, or if political beliefs are caused by bigger amygdelas or anterior cingulate cortexes. But it does beg the question: Are there scientific differences between “conservative” and “liberal” brains?

Jordan Grafman, Director of the Kessler Foundation Research Center’s Traumatic Brain Injury Research Laboratory, explains more about the link between our brains and our political beliefs Wednesday just after 2:00pm on Afternoon Shift.

Get the WBEZ App

Download the best live and on-demand public radio experience. Find out more.