Political thought topic of Fall Neuroscience Symposium keynoteOctober 17, 2006
Politically savvy people think differently from the rest of us—literally.
neural basis of political thought is the topic of the keynote address
at William and Mary’s 2006 Fall Neuroscience Symposium. The symposium
twice each year brings together people from the five departments active
in the College’s neuroscience program, but this fall’s topic makes the
interdisciplinary aspect even greater.
The symposium is being
jointly sponsored by the William and Mary Government Department along
with the Interdisciplinary Studies Program in Neuroscience. The
symposium will be held Tuesday, Oct. 31 in Chesapeake A and B, in the
"This symposium is an exciting way to show
how interdisciplinary our world has become—a world in which
neuroscience is used to try to understand such a seemingly abstract
concept as the origins of political thought,” said John Griffin,
director of the interdisciplinary program in neuroscience. “I am
looking forward to a lively debate and learning more about how MRI
technology may help us understand how we think.”
The keynote address, by Darren Schreiber, is titled “Humans are,
by Nature, Political Animals: New Evidence and Arguments.” Schreiber is
a professor of political science at the University of California, San
Diego, and a professor of law at the University of San Diego. He has
used fMRI—functional magnetic resonance imaging—to identify areas of
political cognition in the brain.
“Political novices and
political sophisticates think differently about politics,” Schreiber
said. His research compared responses to political stimuli among a
group of UCLA undergraduates. Schreiber examined “political
sophisticates”: members of the university’s Republican and Democrat
clubs, along with a control group of apolitical peers. He posed a set
of stimuli to all participants and, using fMRI, studied the area of the
brain triggered by each stimulus. His findings indicated that political
stimuli activated different areas of the brain in political
sophisticates than the political novices.
will be from 4 to 5 p.m., followed by a reception. Student poster
presentations will begin at 2 p.m., followed by oral presentations from
3 to 3:45 p.m.