Twenty-First Century Phrenology: The Pop Quiz


The studies below, all published in the last three years, each called attention to anatomically or physiologically based differences in brain function between persons of varying political affiliations. Which of these studies either used a proper prospective design or were appropriately validated on a second population of subjects?

A. Screiber et al,in Plos One, February 2013, reported an fMRI difference between registered Republicans and registered Democrats regarding activated cortical areas during a gambling task involving decisions about risk. 1

B. Dhontet al, in Soc Cog Aff Neurosci, March 2012, reported an increase in late positive potentials on event-related EEG evoked potentials among anarchists versus moderates when presented with conficting (oddball) sets of attitudinally related stimuli.2

C. Veccatio et al, in Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc, 2010, found difference in EEG spectroscopy maps of subjects taken immediately after seeing a politician's face varied by whether the face was of a winner or a loser in a recent election, felt to reflect the level of trust in the face seen. 3

D. All of the above.

E. None of the above.


1 Schreiber D, Fonzo G, Simmons AN, Dawes CT, Flagan T, et al. (2013) Red Brain, Blue Brain: Evaluative Processes Differ in Democrats and Republicans. PLoS ONE 8(2): e52970. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052970

2Dhont K, Van Hiel A, Pattyn S, Onraet E, Severens E., A step into the anarchist's mind: examining political attitudes and ideology through event-related brain potentials. (2012) Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2012 Mar;7(3):296-303. doi: 10.1093/scan/nsr009. Epub 2011 Mar 18.

3Vecchiato G, Toppi J, Cincotti F, Astolfi L, De Vico Fallani F, Aloise F, Mattia D, Bocale S, Vernucci F, Babiloni F., Neuropolitics: EEG spectral maps related to a political vote based on the first impression of the candidate's face. (2010) Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2010;2010:2902-5. doi:10.1109/IEMBS.2010.5626324.

The correct answer is, of course, E. I am leaving out the links this time, for the sake of the value of the reader's time.

Here for a Valentine, though :)

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