- Published: November 7, 2012
- Written by Amanda Studebaker
In honor of the recent election, I decided to look into the neuroscience behind politics. A recent article in Science Daily reports that the brains of self-identified Democrats and Republicans are hard-wired differently: the area of the greatest neural response during “resting state” MRIs differs between the two groups.
In Democrats, the neural activity of mirror neurons in areas associated with broad social connectedness is increased, while in Republicans, neural activity in areas associated with tight social connectedness is increased. This shows that in general, Democrats are more focused on the world as a whole while Republicans are focused with their country.
How does this finding relate to the law? Researcher Newman-Norlund suggested that these brain differences might be genetic. That means that our beliefs, though known to be influenced by our parents through external mechanisms, may also be passed down genetically. This can impact the court system in several ways – from stereotypes ingrained in jurors’ minds to a criminal’s view that drugs are a normal part of life.
What should be taken away is that there is a neural basis for beliefs and someone can’t merely be reasoned out of something they feel strongly about. Rehabilitation that merely…