Punching Ideological Extremism in the Face: A Neuroscience-based Approach to Bridging the Partisan Divide


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Dr. Bruneau is a research scientist at the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department at MIT and is currently a research associate and lecturer at the Annenberg School for Communication. Prior to his formal training in neuroscience, he worked, traveled, and lived in a number of conflict regions: South Africa during the transition from Apartheid to Democracy, Sri Lanka during one of the largest Tamil Tiger strikes in that nation's history, Ireland during "The Troubles," Israel/Palestine around the Second Intifada.

He is now working to bring the tools of science to bear on the problem of intergroup conflict by (1) building methods to better characterize the (often unconscious) cognitive biases that drive conflict using explicit, implicit and functional neuroimaging (fMRI) techniques, and (2) critically evaluating efforts aimed at transcending these biases. These efforts have focused on three psychological processes relevant to intergroup conflict: empathy, dehumanization, and motivated reasoning, and involve target groups that are embroiled in intractable conflict (e.g., Israelis and Palestinians), or subject to extreme hostility (e.g., Muslims in the U.S., the Roma in Europe).

Presentation: 1:07:35

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