Political ideology, whether liberal or conservative, is signaled in the brain and can be discovered by analyzing neural images with Artificial Intelligence. What is not known is if that brain mark creates the ideology, or if it is the political tendency of a person that shapes their brain.
Brain scans and Artificial Intelligence can predict a person’s political ideology, a new study reveals.
A team from Ohio State University found that certain “signatures” in the brain align precisely with how someone leans politically, whether as a conservative or liberal.
The result, which reaches incredible precision, indicates that functional magnetic resonance imaging (fmRI), which shows the activation of certain regions of the brain in response to certain stimuli, can identify political ideologies, provided that the brain images are analyzed with Artificial Intelligence.
According to the authors of this research, this means that a person’s political thinking can be determined by observing the functioning of their brain.
To reach this conclusion, the researchers analyzed the fmRI results of 174 healthy adults to find out if they can accurately predict people’s political tendencies.
They used state-of-the-art artificial intelligence programs, as well as other resources from the Ohio Supercomputing Center, to analyze the brain scans while the volunteers performed various tasks, none of them related to an ideology, and also while they were doing nothing in particular.
They then compared the results of the brain imaging analyzes with what each of the volunteers indicated about their political preferences, on a six-point scale ranging from very liberal to very conservative.
The researchers found that the brain images corresponding to each of the tasks were related to their political identification, whether it was liberal or conservative.
Even when the participants were not engaged in any particular activity, the images revealed brain activities specifically related to political ideologies, the researchers note.
They also observed that three of the eight tasks assigned during the experiment were much more closely identified with the political ideologies of the participants.
One of those outstanding tasks was of a empathic: invited the volunteers to look at images of people’s faces with different expressions, whether they reflected joy, sadness, fear or indifference.
The second task that appeared much more related to ideology was dedicated to the episodic memory (related to personal historical moments), while the third most affected had to do with the mechanism of reward of the brain: participants could win or lose money depending on how quickly they pressed a button.
Analyzes of images related to reward tasks indicated political extremismwhether liberal or very conservative, while the task of empathy towards the observed faces was more related to a moderate ideology, regardless of the political sign.
The predictions of political preferences were even more precise when demographic and socioeconomic indicators of each of the participants were taken into account, such as age, sex, income level, education and even the influence of the family in the conformation. of ideology.
Three key brain regions
Although the study has found a link between the brain and politics, the researchers warn that it is not possible to determine with certainty what factors cause this relationship.
However, he emphasizes that brain activity in the amygdala (which regulates emotions), inferior frontal gyrus (which allows us to control our reactions) and the hippocampus (memory-related), show the strongest connection in determining which political group a person identifies with.
Skyler Cranmer, one of the study’s authors, said in a statement: “What we don’t know is whether that brain signature is there because of the ideology that people choose, or whether people’s ideology is caused by the signatures.” we found… It could also be a combination of both, but our study doesn’t have the data to address this question.”
Ideology, although not the only meaning, can be defined as the set of collective emotions, ideas and beliefs that can be applied to politics, among other possible categories. However, the biological mechanisms that determine ideologies are still poorly understood.
A 2017 investigation found that the brain amygdalaan area of the archaic brain, is more voluminous in conservative politicians, while the anterior cingulate cortexthe evolved part of the brain, is more developed in progressives.
This biological difference, which is alien to people’s free will, is what causes conservatives to react more to negative stimuli, and progressives to be more sensitive to positive ones, according to the authors of this research. This brain difference also makes it possible to detect a person’s political orientation by analyzing their brain data.
The new research has gone one step further in that predictability: It is one of the first to link political ideologies to multiple brain regions at once, suggesting that the biological and neurological roots of political behavior run much deeper. and complex than previously thought.
Functional Connectivity Signatures of Political Ideology. Seo-Eun Yang et al. PNAS Nexus, pgac066. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/pnasnexus/pgac066