Religion and the Brain: Thicker Cortices Linked to Higher Rates of Spirituality

First Posted: Dec 27, 2013 04:00 PM EST

Ah, the brain. The body's most complex organ that's ultimately responsible for our feelings, hopes and dreams. (Yeah, the heart may be connected to love when it comes to literature, but thank this organ for those fluttery thoughts and experiences.)

Researchers from Columbia University set out to examine a particularly interesting connection-the brain's thickness and it's potential relationship to religious belief. What did they discover? Researchers determined that thicker brains could be tied to higher levels of religious belief. 

For their study, researchers recruited 104 adult participants between the ages of 18 and 64. Lead study author Lisa Miller then assessed the participants' level of religious belief, which ultimately explains how important church regulations as well as attending religious function is in that person's life. Cortical brain thickness for each participant was also measured via MRI technology.

Researchers found that people who placed a higher significance on religion and spirituality also contained thicker cortices in some areas of the brain. Researchers also believe that the same thickness could also be tied to an individual's link of depression-which ultimately means that those with a thinner cortex are a higher risk of depression, in some cases.

However, researchers did not find a relationship between thicker cortices of the brain and a relationship in going to church more or less often.

More information regarding the study can be found via JAMA Psychiatry.

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