The study showed that a part of the brain called the lateral orbitofrontal cortex (LOFC) must function properly if voters are to make choices that combine different sources of information about the candidates.

"How multiple attributes are combined in decision-making and how values are constructed is an important field that is just starting to be considered," said Lesley Fellows, a neurologist and researcher at the Montreal Neurological Institute.

The study found that damage to the LOFC leads people to base their vote on simpler information, namely the candidate's good looks. Healthy individuals and those with brain damage affecting other parts of the frontal lobes spontaneously weighed both attractiveness and an assessment of the candidate's competence when making their choices.

The study by researchers from Canada's McGill University provides the first evidence that the LOFC is critical for integrating different kinds of information to allow people to arrive at a preference.

Imagining themselves in an electoral period, participants were also asked to rate the perceived attractiveness and competence of the candidates. The study appeared in the Journal of Neuroscience.



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