Firth credited in human brain study
Move over Brian Cox - Oscar winner Colin Firth could be the new poster boy for science after being credited as an author of an academic paper.
The King's Speech star is listed as one of four co-authors of a study into human brains which has been hailed as a "useful contribution" to the field.
The work stemmed from Firth's guest editorship on Radio 4's Today programme in December.
He is the latest heart-throb to be associated with the world of science after Prof Cox - a former chart star with the band D:ream, and now a particle physicist - recently helped to popularise his field through his TV shows.
For his edition of Today, Firth commissioned UCL scientist Geraint Rees to scan the brains of Conservative politician Alan Duncan and Labour's Stephen Pound to see if there were any differences depending on political leanings.
Rees and colleague Ryota Kanai, both from the university's Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, then continued the research with a further 90 participants.
It found that Liberal and Conservative attitudes were associated with thicker areas of parts of the brain.
The finding was reproduced in another sample of participants, leading researchers to estimate they could predict political leanings with 72% accuracy by looking at brain structure. The paper has been published in the journal Current Biology.
The inclusion of Firth's name is a coup for the actor as academics strive for authorship in leading journals.
New York University's Professor John Jost, one of the world's leading authorities in political psychology, hailed the study. He told The Psychologist magazine: "I do think that it is a useful contribution because it builds on and extends previous work."