Underactive ACC and Conservativism

I found this on Neurophilosophy, which is a very good blog:

“Research suggests that liberals and conservatives have different personality traits and “cognitive styles”: while liberals are more intellectually curious and tolerant of ambiguity, conservatives have a greater desire to reach decisions quickly and are more consistent in the way they make those decisions.

It was found that those who considered themselves to be conservatives made more response errors when upon presentatin of the infrequent letters than those who considered themselves as liberals (respectively, 47% and 37% of the time).  

The EEG data showed that, during the trials in which the infrequent letter was presented, the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) was twice as active in liberals than in conservatives.

The ACC is one of the brain’s executive control centres, and is hypothesized to be involved in detecting and signalling conflicts in information processing. So liberals showed significantly more conflict-related brain activity when confronted with a situation in which they are required to break an old habit.”

 Neuroscience and neuropsychology research is often criticized as not being science.  Such criticism is ironic considering that it often originates in the sorts of reflexive anti-science polemic that attacks science while praising the “proofs” demonstrated by “creation science”.

Research into the neurosciences is confounded by a combination of ethical and technical limitations. Although these factors render the neurosciences more challenging for scientific inquiry than chemistry, for instance, they do not signify that neurosciences are not scientific. Imagine that you are in an electronics store in which banks of loudspeakers are simultaneously playing different outputs from banks of CD players.  Now try to identify which output belongs to which player. It is not that there is not an “explanation” for each output, it is merely that this is difficult to decipher against background activity.

I found the ACC-Conservatism study interesting because it provides a neural correlation with a behavioral pattern that I have observed repeatedly.  I have long maintained that there is cognitive processing deficiency that underlies a commonly observed cluster of personality traits. 

Elsewhere: Red Brain, Blue Brain: Politics and Gray Matter : Persistence of Untruths and Flexibility


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