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Are Republican brains different?

A brain scan study recently revealed that Democrats and Republican process and understand risk in different ways, with Democrats more attuned to their emotions and those of others, while Republicans are more driven by fear and potential reward.

The study analyzed the brain scans of 83 people as they played a gambling game in which participants could either score the easy low points or hold out for possible higher rewards. Both Democrats and Republicans exhibited similar levels of risk-taking—in other words, they were equally likely to hold out for the higher but riskier rewards—but different regions of their brains were activated during these decisions.

For Democrats, the region of the brain with the most activity was the left posterior insula, a region that is associated with processing emotions and understanding what other people are thinking or feeling. The region is sometimes called the “theory of the mind,” and it’s the part of one’s brain that allows you to estimate, for example, what your friend, partner or even a stranger may be thinking by imagining yourself in their shoes, so to speak. (No word yet on whether woman’s brains have vastly more developed “theory of the mind” regions.) It’s a region that’s associated with empathy and the understanding that each person has their own unique point of view.

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