Human Mirror Neuron System (hMNS) Specific Differences in Resting-State Functional Connectivity in Self-Reported Democrats and Republicans: A Pilot Study


In light of ever-present partisan division in the US political system, it is critical that researchers gain a better under-standing of potential biological differences that exist between self-professed Democrats and Republicans. In the current pilot experiment, we examined differences within the human mirror neuron system (hMNS), a network linked to a host of social and emotional abilities, in a small group of self-identified Republicans and Democrats. We found clear differences between these two groups with respect to resting-state brain connectivity within the hMNS. These neural differences were not systematically related to differences in empathy. Our findings are consistent with the idea that other factors, such as one’s preferential type of social connectivity (broad vs. tight), may have driven the reported findings. These data provide novel insights regarding our knowledge of the biological basis of party identification, and suggest specific directions for future research.

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R. Newman-Norlund, J. Burch and K. Becofsky, "Human Mirror Neuron System (hMNS) Specific Differences in Resting-State Functional Connectivity in Self-Reported Democrats and Republicans: A Pilot Study," Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science, Vol. 3 No. 4, 2013, pp. 341-349. doi: 10.4236/jbbs.2013.34034.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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