Tuesday, October 13, 2009

economics uses the same circuits as religion

PhysOrg | Researchers have found that the process of believing or disbelieving a statement, whether religious or not, seems to be governed by the same areas in the brain.

When it comes to religion, believers and nonbelievers appear to think very differently. But at the level of the brain, is believing in God different from believing that the sun is a star or that 4 is an even number?

While religious faith remains one of the most significant features of human life, little is known about its relationship to ordinary belief. Nor is it known whether religious believers differ from nonbelievers in how they evaluate statements of fact.

In the first neuroimaging study to systematically compare religious faith with ordinary cognition, UCLA and University of Southern California researchers have found that while the human brain responds very differently to religious and nonreligious propositions, the process of believing or disbelieving a statement, whether religious or not, seems to be governed by the same areas in the brain.

The study also found that devout Christians and nonbelievers use the same brain regions to judge the truth of religious and nonreligious propositions. The results, the study authors say, represent a critical advance in the psychology of religion. The paper appears Sept. 30 in the journal PLoS ONE.