Marching Orders

March for women! March for science! March for…the amygdala?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

There are many opportunities today to protest the status quo. But what inspires us to march?

Hannah Nam at Stony Brook University researches the amygdala. That’s the almond-shaped cluster of neurons in our brain that controls our emotions, memory, and decisions.

Nam gave volunteers a questionnaire that measured their political ideologies, from conservative to liberal. She also probed their satisfaction with current social structures. Finally, she scanned the subjects’ brains with an M-R-I to measure amygdala size.

RESULTS?! Those with a larger amygdala were more conservative AND less likely to take to the streets. Those with a smaller amygdala were classified by the researchers as more liberal. Nam thinks a larger amygdala may do a better job of accepting the status quo.

“I don’t know, brain, things seem pretty good. They could definitely be a lot worse!”

They also found that those with smaller amygdalas were more likely to have attended a past protest. Mostly for liberal causes.

So, lets all chant together “hey ho, amygdala go!” …we’ll work on it.