Study uncovers how brain damage increases religious fundamentalism https://t.co/OHfXe3AIF7
— PsyPost.org (@PsyPost) May 6, 2017
Grafman and his colleagues examined male Vietnam combat veterans with lesions to part of the brain known as the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. They found veterans with these lesions reported higher levels of religious fundamentalism compared to those without the lesions.
The finding indicates that “the variation in the nature of religious beliefs are governed by specific brain areas in the anterior parts of the human brain and those brain areas are among the most recently evolved areas of the human brain,” Grafman explained.
Previous research had suggested that the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which is situated in the frontal lobe of the brain, was a “critical hub” for belief systems.
The new study found damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex appeared to cause an increase in religious fundamentalism by reducing cognitive flexibility – meaning the ability to update our beliefs in light of new evidence – along with lowering the personality trait of openness.