Neuroscientists are examining whether political allegiances are hard-wired into people after finding evidence that the brains of conservatives are a different shape to those of left-wingers.
Scans of 90 students' brains at University College London (UCL) uncovered a "strong correlation" between the thickness of two particular areas of grey matter and an individual's views.
Self-proclaimed right-wingers had a more pronounced amygdala - a primitive part of the brain associated with emotion while their political opponents from the opposite end of the spectrum had thicker anterior cingulates.
The research was carried out by Geraint Rees director of the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience who said he was "very surprised" by the finding, which is being peer reviewed before publication next year.
It was commissioned as a light-hearted experiment by actor Colin Firth as part of his turn guest editing BBC Radio 4's Today programme but has now developed into a serious effort to discover whether we are programmed with a particular political view.
Professor Rees said that although it was not precise enough to be able to predict someone's stance simply from a scan, there was "a strong correlation that reaches all our scientific tests of significance".
"The anterior cingulate is a part of the brain that is on the middle surface of the brain at the front and we found that the thickness of the grey matter, where the nerve cells of neurons are, was thicker the more people described themselves as liberal or left wing and thinner the more they described themselves as conservative or right wing," he told the programme.
"The amygdala is a part of the brain which is very old and very ancient and thought to be very primitive and to do with the detection of emotions. The right amygdala was larger in those people who described themselves as conservative.
"It is very significant because it does suggest there is something about political attitudes that are either encoded in our brain structure through our experience or that our brain structure in some way determines or results in our political attitudes."
Thank you for that. I have not laughed that hard for a while
why?...well it is about how brain thinks...what is there to laugh in it?
As a teenager, I was very left wing. I wore a badge of Lenin on my school tie, carried a copy of Das Kapital, and was almost expelled from high school for smuggling the Socialist Worker Newspaper into the school library.
At 17 I was involved in protests against the ultra-conservative National Party State Government in Queensland.
I pitched the first tent outside the US embassy during the failed attempt to make Iraq the 51st State of the Union.
Le Monde published a photo of me burning a French flag outside their Australian Embassy during nuclear testing at Moruroa Atoll in the '90s.
I support Julian Assange, do not support carbon taxes, will vote for any party that stops the influx of refugee boats into Australia, am anti-abortion, pro-renationalisation of our privatized utilities and public transport. And not registered to vote - a criminal offense in Australia.
That is why I had to laugh.
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