Religion under the PET scan
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01-01-2011, 03:39 PM
Religion under the PET scan
A few weeks ago I read an article in the newspaper (a quality newspaper) that they did some experiments with religious people under the pet scanner. They asked them some personal questions and personal opinions. Then they measured what part of the brain on these people became active. then they asked them some questions about religion and the opinion of their god on that mater. Turns out it activates the same zone's in the brain.

Did anyone hear about this experiment?
I can't seem to find it anymore. Debunked?

Observer

Agnostic atheist
Secular humanist
Emotional rationalist
Disclaimer: Don’t mix the personal opinion above with the absolute and objective truth. Remember to think for yourself. Thank you.
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01-01-2011, 04:11 PM
RE: Religion under the PET scan
(01-01-2011 03:39 PM)The_observer Wrote:  A few weeks ago I read an article in the newspaper (a quality newspaper) that they did some experiments with religious people under the pet scanner. They asked them some personal questions and personal opinions. Then they measured what part of the brain on these people became active. then they asked them some questions about religion and the opinion of their god on that mater. Turns out it activates the same zone's in the brain.

Did anyone hear about this experiment?
I can't seem to find it anymore. Debunked?

idk about that but I read an article in my local paper that said when religious people talked about their god parts of the brain responsible for higher thought process were less active.

Hey brother christian, with your high and mighty errand, your actions speak so loud, I can't hear a word you're saying.

"This machine kills fascists..."

"Well this machine kills commies!"
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01-01-2011, 06:29 PM
 
RE: Religion under the PET scan
Quote:Brain scans reveal that the parts of the brain we use to process religious belief evolved most recently and give us sophisticated cognition

THAT a complex mind is required for religion may explain why faith is unique to humans. Now brain scans support this idea, revealing that the parts of the brain that process religious belief are those that evolved most recently and give us sophisticated cognition.

These regions include ones involved in our theory of mind. We share this ability to recognise that other people have intentions and thoughts independent of our own with only a few other species, including chimpanzees. Other regions involved in religious thought are ones used for language and metaphor.

Jordan Grafman of the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues asked 40 monotheistic believers whether they agreed with statements relating to three core elements of belief: whether God intervenes in the world; how to interpret God's emotional state; and how to relate to abstract doctrinal teachings or imagery. The researchers scanned the believers' brains as they answered.

While considering the first two statements, volunteers relied on areas such as the lateral frontal lobe and frontal gyri, which are required for a theory of mind. For the doctrinal statements, they used areas devoted to linguistics, decoding metaphor and recalling images (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0811717106). "We were particularly interested in determining which cognitive components of belief are stored in brain areas most evolved in humans," says Grafman.

Anthropologist Robin Dunbar of the University of Oxford says the results back his own theory that brain areas enabling the "higher orders of intentionality" shown by humans had to evolve before religion was possible. He suggests that religious people treat gods as "having essentially human mental traits, like characters in a novel or play".

Grafman stresses that the scans don't shed light on whether or not God exists. "They only address how the mind and brain work in tandem to allow us to have belief systems that guide our everyday actions."

~~~~~~~~

By Andy Coghlan
New Scientist, 3/14/2009, Vol. 201 Issue 2699, p11-11; , 1p

I also found an article that shows praying to God is like talking to a friend in a believer's mind.
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01-01-2011, 08:06 PM
 
RE: Religion under the PET scan
Good article. Thanks for sharing. This reminds me a bit of a lecture I watched a while back on YouTube that dealt with the evolutionary formulation of religion. I'll see if I can find it.
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02-01-2011, 12:08 AM
RE: Religion under the PET scan
So that is why some people can have a relationship with god. Their brains act as if they are talking to a friend when they believe they are talking to god. Similar things happen in other situations. In extreme peril many people report feeling a presence beside them when there is no one there. This is hard to test because of the ethics of putting people in extreme peril for testing purposes. There is also the phantom limb syndrome where people will claim to have sensations in a limb that they lost (I lost my right arm in an accident but sometimes my right elbow itches, but it isn't there). The phantom limb syndrome happens because an unused part of the brain (right arm control) starts picking up signals from another part of the body controlled by an adjacent brain part (left cheek). Left cheek gets itchy, person may feel the itch in their right arm. This has been well studied, though my explanation is very basic.

When I find myself in times of trouble, Richard Dawkins comes to me, speaking words of reason, now I see, now I see.
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