After the Conference

I think it’s good that we don’t rely on almost 19th and 20th century models of political behaviour and try to enrich them with some unknown aspects. According to his own statement he put all his effort to make “the political unconscious as conscious as possible” i.e. understand and explain it in scientific terms. At its best it offers some insight how behaviour at the ballot-box is partly rooted in some neurobiologically derivated characteristics of our brain. Some scientists go even further by linking voting behaviour with our genetic “equipment” e.g. polymorphisms of MAO-B or 5HTTP genes but it seems at least controversial if not impossible to fully elucidate such a connection.

In my opinion, the realistic approach of transforming “neuropolitics” into serious domain of research is twofold. Firstly, it presumes to perform intensive search for basic neuroprocesses related to political decision-making and/or human proneness to manipulation by means of political rhetoric or behaviour (actually, Lakoff’s book is about it). But this research cannot explain all aspects of our political mind on its own. Only such wide approach of integrating scientific data can offer preliminary insights about political (neuro)decisions and its real-life consequences. Not only by giving information “what structures are lighting up” in our brain (e.g. if we see a picture with politicians) but also offering an answer to the question “why are they lighting up” and making some casual relationships between human behaviour and cognitive processes behind it. In fact the political mind is something more than the political brain even we can assume the former is completely based on the latter.

I guess that almost everybody interested in both neuroscience and marketing has ever heard about so-called “Pepsi paradox”. Anyway, let me remind you, what stands behind this fascinating phenomena. And what is important, the existence of “Pepsi paradox” was also tested experimentally using fMRI methodology. Even today this experiment, originally published by McClure and his colleagues in 2004, is cited as one of the most important findings at the edge between neuoroscience and our understanding of advertising effects on the brain.