Cognitive and neural foundations of religious belief
- Dimitrios Kapogiannisa,b,
- Aron K. Barbeya,c,
- Michael Sua,
- Giovanna Zambonia,
- Frank Kruegera and
- Jordan Grafmana,1
+ Author Affiliations
- aNational Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke/National Institutes of Health, MSC 1440, 10 Center Drive, MSC 1440, Bethesda, MD 20892-1440;
- bNational Institute on Aging/National Institutes of Health, 3001 South Hanover Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21225; and
- cDepartment of Psychology, Georgetown University, White-Gravenor Hall 306, 37th and O Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20057
Edited by Marcus E. Raichle, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, and approved February 3, 2009 (received for review November 17, 2008)
We propose an integrative cognitive neuroscience framework for understanding the cognitive and neural foundations of religious belief. Our analysis reveals 3 psychological dimensions of religious belief (God's perceived level of involvement, God's perceived emotion, and doctrinal/experiential religious knowledge), which functional MRI localizes within networks processing Theory of Mind regarding intent and emotion, abstract semantics, and imagery. Our results are unique in demonstrating that specific components of religious belief are mediated by well-known brain networks, and support contemporary psychological theories that ground religious belief within evolutionary adaptive cognitive functions.
- 1To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: email@example.com
Author contributions: D.K. and J.G. designed research; D.K. and M.S. performed research; D.K., A.K.B., M.S., G.Z., and F.K. analyzed data; and D.K., A.K.B., M.S., G.Z., F.K., and J.G. wrote the paper.
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
This article is a PNAS Direct Submission.
This article contains supporting information online at www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/0811717106/DCSupplemental.