As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Bipartisan Brain Scans

On Wednesday, beleaguered cable network TechTV (soon to be my former employer) gave us a little glimpse at just what's going on in the American mind when it's thinking about politics. A story on the news show TechLive described a study by Dr. Joshua Freedman, Research Psychiatrist, in which political ads were shown to Democrats and Republicans, during which their brain activity was monitored by magnetic resonance imaging.

When the image of the candidate aligned with their own political views popped up, blood would flow to the more active part of the brain, in this case to areas of the brain relating to emotional response. In turn, when the candidate for the opposition appeared, the blood flow would indicate activity in the more rational parts of the brain. Marco Iacobini, an Associate Professor at UCLA mused "What is going on here is that subjects are using their rational apparatus almost to argue against the opponent of their favorite candidate."

Aha! But that's just the tip of the iceberg... When the participants were then directed to observe violent imagery, such as Bush's delightfully classy use of the World Trade Center disaster in his ads, "The Democrats... showed a striking and prolonged reaction in the amygdala, which is associated with anxiety and fear and alarm. And the Republicans showed almost no reaction," explained Freedman.

The TechLive anchors didn't speculate on what all this meant. Luckily, Brooklyn pundit Rob G. has summed it up pretty nicely I think: "Jesus, it's almost like an April Fool's Day joke, isn't it? It seems that Democrats exhibit human reactions to images of suffering, while Republicans think more like sociopathic android/monsters from the Earth's molten core."