Reward, salience, and attentional networks are activated by religious experience in devout Mormons
Ferguson, Michael A.
King, Jace B.
Giangrasso, Danielle M.
Korenberg, Julie R.
Anderson, Jeffrey S.
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CitationFerguson, Michael A., Jared A. Nielsen, Jace B. King, Li Dai, Danielle M. Giangrasso, Rachel Holman, Julie R. Korenberg, and Jeffrey S. Anderson. 2017. “Reward, salience, and attentional networks are activated by religious experience in devout Mormons.” Social neuroscience 13 (1): 104-116. doi:10.1080/17470919.2016.1257437. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17470919.2016.1257437.
AbstractHigh-level cognitive and emotional experience arises from brain activity, but the specific brain substrates for religious and spiritual euphoria remain unclear. We demonstrate using functional magnetic resonance imaging scans in 19 devout Mormons that a recognizable feeling central to their devotional practice was reproducibly associated with activation in nucleus accumbens, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, and frontal attentional regions. Nucleus accumbens activation preceded peak spiritual feelings by 1–3 s and was replicated in four separate tasks. Attentional activation in the anterior cingulate and frontal eye fields was greater in the right hemisphere. The association of abstract ideas and brain reward circuitry may interact with frontal attentional and emotive salience processing, suggesting a mechanism whereby doctrinal concepts may come to be intrinsically rewarding and motivate behavior in religious individuals.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:35015066
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