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Do Brain Connections Help Shape Religious Beliefs?
New Rochelle, NY, January 27, 2014—Building on previous evidence showing that religious belief involves cognitive activity that can be mapped to specific brain regions, a new study has found that causal, directional connections between these brain networks can be linked to differences in religious thought. The article “Brain Networks Shaping Religious Belief” is published in Brain Connectivity, a bimonthly peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers, and is available on the Brain Connectivity website.
Dimitrios Kapogiannis and colleagues from the National Institute on Aging (National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, MD) and Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, IL, analyzed data collected from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies to evaluate the flow of brain activity when religious and non-religious individuals discussed their religious beliefs. The authors determined causal pathways linking brain networks related to “supernatural agents,” fear regulation, imagery, and affect, all of which may be involved in cognitive processing of religious beliefs.
“When the brain contemplates a religious belief,” says Dr. Kapogiannis, “it is activating three distinct networks that are trying to answer three distinct questions: 1) is there a supernatural agent involved (such as God) and, if so, what are his or her intentions; 2) is the supernatural agent to be feared; and 3) how does this belief relate to prior life experiences and to doctrines?”
“Are there brain networks uniquely devoted to religious belief? Prior research has indicated the answer is a resolute no,” continues study co-author Jordan Grafman, Director, Brain Injury Research and Chief, Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. “But this study demonstrates that important brain networks devoted to various kinds of reasoning about others, emotional processing, knowledge representation, and memory are called into action when thinking about religious beliefs. The use of these basic networks for religious practice indicates how basic networks evolved to mediate much more complex beliefs like those contained in religious practice.”
About the Journal
Brain Connectivity is the journal of record for researchers and clinicians interested in all aspects of brain connectivity. The Journal is under the leadership of Founding and Co-Editors-in-Chief Christopher Pawela, PhD, Assistant Professor, Medical College of Wisconsin, and Bharat Biswal, PhD, Chair of Biomedical Engineering, New Jersey Institute of Technology. It includes original peer-reviewed papers, review articles, point-counterpoint discussions on controversies in the field, and a product/technology review section. To ensure that scientific findings are rapidly disseminated, articles are published Instant Online within 72 hours of acceptance, with fully typeset, fast-track publication within 4 weeks. Tables of content and a sample issue may be viewed on the Brain Connectivity website.
About the Publisher
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers is a privately held, fully integrated media company known for establishing authoritative medical and biomedical peer-reviewed journals, including Journal of Neurotrauma and Therapeutic Hypothermia and Temperature Management. Its biotechnology trade magazine, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN), was the first in its field and is today the industry’s most widely read publication worldwide. A complete list of the firm’s 80 journals, newsmagazines, and books is available on the Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers website.