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Are Political Views Hard-Wired Into Our Brains?

Brain scan
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CBS

A study out of University College London has found differences in the brains of people with conservative views and those with liberal views, the Telegraph reports.

Specifically: Conservatives have brains in which areas called amygdalas, which are associated with fear and emotion, are larger. It also found they have a smaller anterior cingulate.

The study has not concluded that conservatives are born with such brains, since the adult volunteers studied could have developed them through experience.

Still, it "does suggest there is something about political attitude that is encoded in our brain structure through our experience or that there is something in our brain structure that determines or results in political attitude," said Geraint Rees, who led the research, according to the Telegraph.

Researchers examined of the brains of two leading British politicians, one liberal and one conservative, as well as 90 students for the study. It was commissioned by actor Colin Firth as part of a "light-hearted experiment" that yielded surprising results, as the Sidney Morning Herald notes.

Raw Story argues that the study, if confirmed, offers "the first medical explanation for why conservatives tend to be more receptive to threats of terrorism," since amygdalas are associated with fear.

Rees described such areas of the brain as "very old and very ancient and thought to be very primitive and to do with the detection of emotions."