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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Mar 24;106(12):4876-81. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0811717106. Epub 2009 Mar 9.

Cognitive and neural foundations of religious belief.

Author information

  • 1National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke/National Institutes of Health, MSC 1440, 10 Center Drive, MSC 1440, Bethesda, MD 20892-1440, USA.

Abstract

We propose an integrative cognitive neuroscience framework for understanding the cognitive and neural foundations of religious belief. Our analysis reveals 3 psychological dimensions of religious belief (God's perceived level of involvement, God's perceived emotion, and doctrinal/experiential religious knowledge), which functional MRI localizes within networks processing Theory of Mind regarding intent and emotion, abstract semantics, and imagery. Our results are unique in demonstrating that specific components of religious belief are mediated by well-known brain networks, and support contemporary psychological theories that ground religious belief within evolutionary adaptive cognitive functions.

PMID:
19273839
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2660736
Free PMC Article

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