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It takes a lot of brain “real estate” to disagree

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Researchers have created a way to examine the brains of two people at the same time while talking.

What they find does not surprise those who find themselves Insist About political and social issues.

When the two agree, their brains show a gentle synchronization of activity focused on the sensory areas of the brain. However, if they disagree, researchers report that as each individual fights the arguments of others, many other areas of the brain involved in higher cognitive function will be mobilized. There is.

“Our entire brain is a social processing network,” says Joy Hirsch, a professor of psychiatry at Yale University and a professor of comparative medicine and neuroscience. “But disagreeing requires far more real estate than agreeing.”

In this study, researchers recruited 38 adults who were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with a series of statements such as “same-sex marriage is a civil right” or “marijuana should be legalized.” did.

After matching the pairs based on the reaction, the researchers used an imaging technique called functional near-infrared spectroscopy to record brain activity during face-to-face discussions.

When people agreed, brain activity was in harmony and probably tended to focus on the sensory areas of the brain, such as the visual system. Social cues From their partner. However, during the controversy, these areas of the brain were less active. During that time, activity increased in the frontal lobe of the brain, home of higher executive function.

“When we agree, there is synchronicity between the brains,” says Hirsch. “But if we disagree, the nerve connections are broken.”

Understanding how our brain works, disagreeing or agreeing, is Polarization The political environment, Hirsch points out.

In disagreement, she says the two brains are involved in many emotional and cognitive resources “like a symphony playing different music.” Consistently, “like a musical duet, there is less cognitive involvement between the speaker’s brain and more social interaction.”

The survey results will be displayed in Frontier of human neuroscience.. Additional researchers from Yale University and the University College London contributed to this study.

The lead researcher for this paper is Alex Salama-Manteau, a former graduate student in economics at Yale University and now an Airbnb data scientist. Mark Tide, a research scientist at the Haskins Laboratories at Yale University, is the second author of this treatise.

Source: Yale University

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