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Brain's shape 'determines political views'

entertainment Updated: Dec 29, 2010 16:44 IST
University College London

Are you a bit inclined towards the Left? It's down to the shape of your brain, says a study.

Researchers at the University College London have carried out the study and found that the physical shape of a person's brain determines what his or her political views are, the Daily Express reported.

The study has found differences in two key parts of the brain between people who say they are Right-wing and those claiming to be Left-wing.

For their study, the researchers looked for patterns in the brains of more than 90 people who professed to have a political philosophy, including British Labour MP Stephen Pound and Tory MP Alan Duncan.

Using an MRI scanner, the researchers studied the shape of the anterior cingulate - the grey matter which houses nerve cells and plays an important part in decision-making, empathy and emotion.

They also examined the two amygdala lobes, which are key to processing emotional reactions. The grey matter was found to be thicker in people who described themselves as liberal or Left-wing and thinner in those who said they were conservative or Right-wing.

Conservatives were also found to have larger right-hand amygdala lobes than their left-leaning counterparts.

The results for Alan Duncan and Stephen Pound matched the study's findings. Pound's scan revealed a thicker anterior cingulate, Duncan's was thinner. Both MPs recorded similar densities for the amygdala.

Lead researcher Professor Geraint Rees said: "We were very surprised to find there is an area of the brain from which we can predict political attitudes.

"That suggests there are some things about political attitudes that are either encoded in our brain structures through our experience or that our brain structures in some way determine or result in our political attitudes."

Stephen Pound said that he was relieved to have a Left-wing brain. "I am delighted to see there are some certainties in life. Most of my family were surprised to find I had a brain at all. Presumably scan of a Liberal Democrat's brain would show a gaping hole where the loyalty should go."