Adam Leonard has a nice post entitled Explaining Bias on Brains. Here is an excerpt:
The ability of fMRI scans to detect which modules of the brain are active during cognitive processes provides a crude, but nonetheless revealing window into how we “think”: it allows testing whether some of our gross assumptions are true or not.
For example, a widely referenced July 2006 Scientific American “Skeptic” column http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=the-political-brain by Michael Shermer proclaimed, : “A recent brain-imaging study shows that our political predilections are a product of unconscious confirmation bias.”
The column related that shortly before the 2004 presidential election fifteen subjects who described themselves as “strong Republicans” and fifteen who described themselves as “strong Democrats” underwent fMRI brain scans while being asked to assess statements by George W. Bush and John F. Kerry in which the candidates appeared to contradict themselves. In all cases the subjects were critical of the candidate they opposed, and spun explanations excusing the candidate they supported. … What was surprising, however, was what the fMRI scans revealed: parts of the brain associated with processing emotions, resolving conflict, and making moral judgments were activated, but the part of the brain associated with reasoning was not. When the subjects finally arrived at a conclusion that satisfied them, the part of the brain associated with reward and pleasure was activated.
And a bit more:
An awareness that unconscious bias exists in all of us, scientists as well, helps to explain the not infrequent battles that arise whenever new data begins to conflict with accepted theory. It is normal, and unfortunately natural, for proponents of an existing theory or viewpoint to fiercely reject without real examination any data that might challenge the status quo. Hopefully, the growing awareness that we are all “wired” to do this will cause us to consciously resist our impulse.
Check it out!