There has always been a fascination as to why some believe in a higher being and purpose, while others put it down to good old science. Now new research has found an area of the brain, which when damaged, can increase the chance that the person will be less receptive to information that challenges pre existing beliefs. The research has focused on those holding fundamental religious beliefs, however it could just as easily apply to someone with any rigid beliefs (including science).
The research was a continuation of a previous study that showed a neurological underpinning for religion, especially in the prefrontal cortex. The study from Science Direct, used data from Vietnam War veterans who had experienced trauma. The comparison was made between veterans who received brain damage, to those who had not.
From the pool of 119 soldiers, they found that those with damage to their dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (the area linked to problem solving and planning), were less open minded about new ideas. This could help to correlate the relationship between fundamentalism around ideas and the damage to the brain.
The study started by giving subjects a test on cognitive flexibility and their level of religious fundamentalism. They then measured the damage to the participants brain using CT scans. Those that received trauma to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, were significantly more likely to have fundamental beliefs in comparison to the others.
The researchers have said “These findings indicate that cognitive flexibility and openness are necessary for flexible and adaptive religious commitment, and that such diversity of religious thought is dependent on [dorsolateral prefrontal cortex] functionality,”
Past tests have found the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is linked to the short term working memory used to hold multiple pieces of information. The researchers suggest this latest study shows this part of the brain may be important for helping us remain open minded to concepts that challenge core beliefs.
This is not to say that religion is linked to brain damage, but that their is a link between this type of trauma and receiving information that challenges your core beliefs, even when presented with strong evidence.
IMAGE CREDIT:dml5050 / 123RF Stock Photo
I am Luke Miller the author of this article, and creator of Potential For Change. I like to blend psychology and spirituality to help you create more happiness in your life.Grab a copy of my free 33 Page Illustrated eBook- Psychology Meets Spirituality- Secrets To A Supercharged Life You Control Here