The core of cognitive study in psychology

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The core of cognitive study in psychology

Your Brain on Politics: Can neuroscience provide evidence for a liberal and conservative thinking style? It may seem like a stretch to say that one could predict whether you lean left or right by looking at a brain scan—no questions asked, no opinions voiced—purely based on your neuroanatomy.

However, this might not be too far from reality—at least insofar as predicting thinking style, which has been shown to be somewhat distinct based on party association. Does brain structure determine your beliefs, or do your beliefs change your brain structure? What about those who switch parties at some point?

How do they fit in to this model? Please keep in mind from the beginning that this is not an endorsement of any one political party. More than one study has shown these same results, which is why I felt it was worth investigating. A few questions to keep in mind: If these differences do legitimately exist, how can—or better yet—how should we use this knowledge?

How can insight The core of cognitive study in psychology from research of this kind prove helpful in the quest for more effective communication across party lines?

Can empathy and understanding of personality differences, without judgments or stereotyping, aid in the productivity of political debates around topics such as climate change or evolution?

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A few clarifications The idea of a genetic or a neurological difference between liberals and conservatives is a hot topic of debate.

In fact, Chris has covered quite a bit of it on this blog. Consequently, there has been a lot of thorough criticism of these converging studies—the methods, types of subjects, error bars, the flaws in design, sample size, etc, etc, ad nauseam, ad infinitum.

But more research keeps cropping up that shows this same trend, so I feel at this point we should be thinking a little more about what this all means in the big picture. Maybe each study has some flaws—I can probably find a few things in every study that could be improved upon.

I also know the danger of over-applying and over-generalization of results like these to an entire population, or assuming that a group tendency necessarily applies to every single person in that group.

Correlations are also not the same as causation. So I get it. That tells me something.


In cases like these I tend to look more at the data and pay less attention to the analyses, drawing my own conclusions from the data across all the studies.

One paper may not have all the answers, but I think there is enough mounting evidence in the stack of literature that we can start carefully drawing some conclusions. What I will do is look at the pattern across several of these papers and talk about what this implies in the larger scheme of things.

These are the ones I want to focus on. The Amodio study found that liberalism correlated with greater activity in the anterior cingulate cortexor the ACC, while the Kanai study found that liberalism correlated with increased gray matter volume or a larger ACC, as shown in MRI scans. Additionally, the Kanai study found that conservatism was correlated with increased volume of the right amygdala.

Recent work has shown a correlation between liberalism and conflict-related activity measured by event-related potentials originating in the anterior cingulate cortex. Here we show that this functional correlate of political attitudes has a counterpart in brain structure.

In a large sample of young adults, we related self-reported political attitudes to gray matter volume using structural MRI. We found that greater liberalism was associated with increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex, whereas greater conservatism was associated with increased volume of the right amygdala.

These results were replicated in an independent sample of additional participants. Our findings extend previous observations that political attitudes reflect differences in self-regulatory conflict monitoring and recognition of emotional faces by showing that such attitudes are reflected in human brain structure.

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Although our data do not determine whether these regions play a causal role in the formation of political attitudes, they converge with previous work to suggest a possible link between brain structure and psychological mechanisms that mediate political attitudes.

Now, a first reaction might be: Brain scans at the polling booths! Eh, not so fast. What does the ACC do and why is it relevant? The ACC has a variety of functions in the brain, including error detection, conflict monitoring1, and evaluating or weighing different competing choices.

When there is a flow of ambiguous information, the ACC helps to discern whether the bits of info are relevant or not, and assigns them value. People with some forms of schizophrenia, Paranoid Typefor instance, typically have a poorly functioning ACC, so they have trouble discerning relevant patterns from irrelevant ones, giving equal weight to all of them.CORE is the UCL Centre for Outcomes Research and Effectiveness.

CORE was established in to promote effectiveness based research within applied psychology. The Theory of Cognitive Development, is a comprehensive theory about the nature and development of human intelligence first developed by Jean is primarily known as a developmental stage theory, but in fact, it deals with the nature of knowledge itself and how humans come gradually to acquire it, construct it, and use r-bridal.comer; Piaget claims the idea that cognitive development is.

Areas of Study. The Psychology Department at UC Riverside is home to an active and award-winning faculty. For graduate training, the faculty are grouped into four areas, although there is much interdisciplinary work. Applied psychology is the use of psychological methods and findings of scientific psychology to solve practical problems of human and animal behavior and experience.

Mental health, organizational psychology, business management, education, health, product design, ergonomics, and law are just a few of the areas that have been influenced by the application of psychological principles and findings.

The core of cognitive study in psychology

Much of the research in the cognitive group bridges across these various fields of specialization. In addition to the core faculty in Cognitive Psychology, many faculty members with other primary specializations are also interested in cognitive research.

such as computer science, linguistics, philosophy, and statistics. Programs of study. Why major in psychology? Simply it's intrinsically interesting, enabling you to study how and why people do the things they do.

Plus, a psychology degree opens the door to a variety of careers, such as a school psychologist, clinical psychologist, or neuroscientist.

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