Oriana Pawlyk, Columnist

We always hear in the news how the new congressional dominating GOP is battling President Obama, the Democrats and even sometimes themselves. Well, I suppose since we are $14 trillion in debt (and rising) there is no amicable correspondence until this problem gets solved.  

This article will lay out the basic what’s-going-on-in-the-U.S. facts. But what fun would it be if I didn’t tie some research into it? Some biological research actually, that distinguishes the way conservatives think from the way liberals think. So let’s proceed. 

The week of April 11, the U.S. House and Senate had until Friday to pass the 2011 spending deal. The deal is said to cut $38.5 billion in spending for the rest of the fiscal year (until Sept. 30). The representatives are scheduled to vote Thursday.  

President Obama has always been clear on spending and tax policies in the U.S.: Tax the rich and keep living families making less than $250,000 from higher taxes. So is it that the U.S. has a spending problem? The GOP says yes — cut spending, but do not raise taxes by any means.   

So how exactly do Republicans and Democrats recognize this threat of financial crisis or any domestic crisis for that matter? Well, the answer may be bigger than public opinion: it could tie to the development of the brain. 

Ever wonder why you side with a political party the way you do? Some would say it deals with your upbringing — what your parents think politically will inherently be passed down to you until you “break free” from their thought process.

This answer politicians and scientists alike have been seeking out for decades could be resolved in a new study led by Ryota Kanai of University College London. Kanai found “liberals generally had a larger anterior cingulate cortex — a comma-shaped region near the front of the brain that is involved in decision-making.” Conservatives “had larger amygdalas — almond-shaped structures that are linked with emotional learning and the processing of fear.”  

So what does this mean? These studies support the already established notion that liberals tend to manage conflict better while conservatives tend to recognize threat and are quick to act on this threat. These personality traits can now be linked to this developmental study of brain structure. The MRI scans conducted for the study showed “substantial differences” in the 90 young adult participants who ranked themselves on a five point scale from “very liberal” to “very conservative.”  

Another study conducted at the University of Nebraska was yet another eye opener, literally. According to the political scientists and psychologists in charge of the study, the difference in liberals and conservatives lies in “gaze cues” — they were tested to look at face gazes on a computer screen. The study showed liberals were more inclined to follow the gaze, while conservatives did not. This suggested “people who lean right value autonomy more; alternative explanations suggest liberals might be more empathetic or that conservatives are less trusting of others.” 

Of course these are all theories. The study doesn’t factor in how the shape of the brain changes due to age, experience or other factors. Kanai even released at the end of the study, “More work is needed to determine how these brain structures mediate the formation of political attitude.” 

Wednesday, President Obama unveiled the deficit reduction plan. Before he did, the GOP leaders, especially John Boehner, agreed the president isn’t taking enough into consideration. “Washington has a spending problem, not a revenue problem,” Boehner said. Republicans see the threat. Democrats are looking to work through it. Sound familiar? 

Raised taxes, federal deficits, whatever it may be, it’s not just simple economics. Will this new budget deal be the answer? Will we see changes by 2023 as promised? Maybe. But don’t go picking at your brain for the answer.  

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