A recent paper published by Forbes et al. used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the amygdala, the prefrontal cortex (PFC), and the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), three highly interconnected brain regions important for stereotyping and bias. Studies have shown that the amygdala, involved in arousal, is activated immediately when encountering a so-called out-group member. This first response can be downregulated though if an individual is given time for non-biased deliberation, and this is reflected by activation in the PFC. The OFC is the regulator of these two neural regions, especially if initial negative stereotyping is in conflict with an egalitarian view. Prior research has shown this amygdala inhibition by the lateral PFC region with an experiment where White participants were shown Black faces in either rapid succession (30 ms) or at a slower rate (525 ms). When participants did not have time to reflect on the faces during the fast exposure speeds, enhanced amygdala activation was observed reflecting the early arousing response. During the slow exposure time condition though, amygdala activity was not enhanced. Instead, increased activity was observed in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), which correlates with decreased amygdala activation (Cunningham et al.). This study suggests that if given enough time, a biased view reflected in the activation of the amygdala, can be reconsidered.
|Adapted from The Jury Expert|