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Peace Confl. 2018 May;24(2):245-249. doi: 10.1037/pac0000336.

Prefrontal brain lesions reveal magical ideation arises from enhanced religious experiences.

Author information

1
Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, Brain Injury Research, Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, Chicago, IL, USA.
2
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, USA.
3
School of Systems Biology, George Mason University, VA, USA.
4
Department of Psychology, University of Mannheim, Mannheim, Baden-W├╝rttemberg, Germany.
5
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and School of Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.
6
Departments of Neurology, Psychiatry, and Cognitive Neurology & Alzheimer's Disease, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, USA.
7
Department of Psychology, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, USA.

Abstract

Magical ideation refers to beliefs about causality that lack empirical bases. Few studies have investigated the neural correlates of magical thinking and religious beliefs. Here, we investigate the association between magical ideation and religious experience in a sample of Vietnam veterans who sustained penetrating traumatic brain injury (pTBI) and matched healthy controls (HCs). Scores on the Magical Ideation Scale were positively correlated with scores on the Religious Experience Scale, but only in pTBI patients. Lesion mapping analyses in subgroups of pTBI patients indicated that prefrontal cortex (PFC) lesions were associated with increased magical ideation scores and this relationship was mediated by religious experience. Our findings clarify the mechanism by which the frontal lobe processes modulate magical beliefs. Suppression of the PFC opens people to religious experiences, which in turn increases magical ideation.

KEYWORDS:

Traumatic brain injury; magical ideation; prefrontal cortex; religious beliefs

PMID:
30364497
PMCID:
PMC6197485
[Available on 2019-05-01]
DOI:
10.1037/pac0000336

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