Researchers identify neural circuit that shapes racist and sexist comments

Racism is a pervasive problem that rears its ugly head in some forms of ingrained or everyday racism but how the brain fires out a firing signal has remained a mystery.

Now researchers at Stanford University have identified a neural circuit that shapes the emergence of racist and sexist comments and says that the coding brain area regions involved may act like a relay station for irate whites to the prefrontal brain regions that are responsible for perceiving the negative beliefs passed from other races.

We know that the prefrontal cortex may feel a threatened state when a person feels unsolicited or uncontrolled said Astra Kurtis a Professor of Biological Sciences and Chemistry in the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at Stanford University. But in that dual sense of disinhibition in choosing to ignore such information or respond to them with aggressive behavior we might actually be reinforcing our own prejudices.

By painstakingly mapping the sheared space in the brain she and first-time author Mchumohan Kim have traced the impact of racist and sexist comments made by white participants both upon author and in relation to experience with socially relevant white people.

The researchers say their findings indicate that either xenophobic bias or hispanic bias can evolve to reduce the impact of racist or sexist Information. Their findings also suggest that possibly due to the present absence of detailed structural brain anatomy the neural circuits involved may act as a decoupling or stabilization point between processes involved in social-empathic behavior (IE) and other complex mechanisms that regulate behavior such as attention and safety.

The results were quite striking-we found a powerful and emerging resting-state neural circuit that governs the 4-D representation of fear-related situations said one of the co-first authors Ph. D. candidate Freyanika Smit a postdoctoral fellow in the Karolinska Institutes Department of Psychology and the Arberg Family Department of Personality Cognition and Neuroscience (ADC Neuropsychology and Cognitive Neuroscience Research Center at Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology Department of Psychiatry). We identify explicit initiation and termination of modulatory networks underlying disinhibition and discivate specific neural encoding and processing processes that inform cognition upon itself.