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Which Candidate? Study Examines the Voter's Brain

One neurological area seems key to making complex decisions at the ballot box

MONDAY, June 15, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers say they've identified an area of the brain that seems to influence how you vote.

The investigators studied volunteers who were asked to assess and vote for candidates in a mock election.

The team at McGill University in Montreal said it appears that a certain part of the brain, called the lateral orbitofrontal cortex (LOFC), must function properly in order for voters to make decisions that combine various sources of information about candidates.

If this part of the brain is damaged, people seemed to base their vote on simpler information, mainly the candidates' looks, according to the study.

The findings were published recently in the Journal of Neuroscience.

This is the first evidence that a particular area of the brain plays a critical role in how people vote, the researchers said.

"Recent research suggests that several areas in the brain carry information about the value of decision options, but it is not yet clear how these areas work together when we make a choice," study senior author Dr. Lesley Fellows, a neurologist and researcher at the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill, said in a university news release.

"The LOFC appears to be important when decisions are hard, helping to select the best from among options of similar value," Fellows explained.

More information

McGill University has more about the brain.

SOURCE: McGill University, news release, June 8, 2015
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