Attention Voters: Try to Chill Out!

Campaign Desk doesn’t spend a lot of time hanging around gossip sheets, but an alert reader to whom one of us is married filled us in on a fascinating item buried in Lloyd Grove’s column in today’s New York Daily News.

Seems that a bunch of UCLA neuroscientists have been studying the brains of Republicans and Democrats — and they report back that, sure enough, there is a difference.

In brain wave activity tests taken last spring, the amygdala — an almond-size region of the brain associated with strong emotions such as fear and loathing — went wild in Democrats who viewed President Bush’s television commercials about 9/11. But Republicans showed the same commercials evinced little amygdala activity.

Psychiatrist Joshua Freedman speculates the Republicans’ lack of response may just reflect their world-view that, hey, “the world is a dangerous place, terrible things happen, and you have to be strong.”

Ah, but that was then and this is now. By August, Republican amygdalae began firing off the charts at the sight of smoldering Ground Zero scenes. Neurologist Marco Iacoboni says that’s not necessarily because tough-guy Republicans are suddenly getting as warm and fuzzy as — well, as a New Age Guy. He speculates that the interiors of GOP skulls are crackling with sheet lightning these days because “[i]t’s possible they now fear the election, or feel they may lose the White House.”

Take-home message? It could be a lonnggg 26 days coming up, for both Democratic and Republican brain stems.


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Steve Lovelady was editor of CJR Daily.