No Brain Activity Required For Church

I wanted to share this with you. A new study shows that the brain shuts down when someone experiences transcendence. Well, the right parietal lobe, to be exact. That part of the brain also helps with the ability to do math. So that might explain why religious folks have trouble with the difference between 4.5 Billion years and 6,000 years. LOL!

EDIT: the study that shows that the same area of the brain, the right parietal lobe, is also responsible for troubles in math (dyscalculalia) is here: Finding Math Hard? Blame Your Right Parietal Lobe

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Comment by Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM on April 19, 2009 at 12:01pm
You are very accommodating. The stuff reads badly this morning. I apologize for the pontification :-) I just could not get the stuff to sound chatty last night.
Comment by Neece on April 19, 2009 at 10:49am
Thanks, Rosemary, that was enlightening! But I have to say, I was just having a bit of fun about religious people being bad at math. I wasn't making any real correlations.
Comment by Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM on April 19, 2009 at 1:42am
But, yes, it is ironical that the ability to experience the feeling of the presence of "god" requires that a person temporarily shut down part of their brain.
Comment by Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM on April 19, 2009 at 1:39am
The bottom line is that there is no reason why someone who has a transcendant religious experience should be deficient in any other areas subserved by other parts of the pariental lobes if these areas are functioning normally. The hyper-religiosity of those with impairments in other parts of the pariental lobes arises because of spill over effects (spreading seizure activity) or because the brain damage which affects mathematical ability (for example) also encompasses a number of neighboring areas.
Comment by Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM on April 19, 2009 at 1:30am
Neece, the right parietal lobe is a big lobe and there are a number of sub-sections. The bit that is affected during religious and non-religious meditation which evokes a feeling of transcendence is that section which helps a person tell the difference between the outside world and the inside world and their spatial positioning. When this section is immature or does not work properly the person confuses their internal self with external reality.

A month old baby, for instance, cannot adequately differentiate between its experience of self and its experience of external events and carers. Adults with impairment in this area experience a "sensed presence" external to themselves which is interpreted in line with clues in their environment and suggestions from people in that environment, especially when these are hypnotically induced. The effect is heightened by trance-inducing phenemomena (rhythmic beat, loud music, repetitive chants) and modified by the person's previous experiences and education (including the prevailing cultural and religious beliefs).

People with injuries to the parietal lobes and those who have seizures which arise in this lobe also tend to have transcendant experiences which they often falsely attribute to the presence of a whatever god or supernatural being is consistent with their background and upbringing. These dysfunctions involve a number of contiguous areas which are involved in other specifics: mathematics, spatial orientation, non-sequential aspects of language and the integration of sensory material.

The real reason why the so-called hyper-religious have difficulty with mathematics which do not support their interpretation of holy books is that these transcendant experiences are, firstly, very powerful emotionally and secondly, invoke sensations which do not square with what the person knows about reality. The cognitive dissonance results in their frontal lobes having to work overtime (this is also seen on the fMRI scans) to make sense of their experience. The emotional high influences the direction which their interpretive reasoning takes. The result is a very firm and virtually unshakable conviction that their aberrant experience should continue to be interpreted in the light of their emotional reaction.
Comment by Neece on December 30, 2008 at 12:10pm
Ah, yes, I do love the brain. It is so amazingly AMAZING! (hee hee) :)
Comment by Neece on December 30, 2008 at 12:00pm
I agree, I think part of it is that it's so easy to rely on address books and the like. In the same vein, I don't handle money anymore, it's all plastic. No more counting change. But I have always had trouble with math. When I was in school though, I made it to calculus, but I had to be immersed in it every day and do every bit of homework. Still, I got straight A's so like you, I'm not stupid.
I am so interested in this, I'm going to look further and blog about it. Maybe there's something to this? Who knows?
Comment by Neece on December 30, 2008 at 11:26am
Hello all, I'm so glad this turned into a lively post! I had to reinstall windows so there has been a terrible delay on replying. Sorry! I wasn't ignoring you on purpose, I promise.

I think that dyscalculalia, which is the disorder shown by lack of right parietal lobe activity, is not the same as what you guys are describing. I am going to edit the post to include the study about that, to clear things up. I was a bit vague. Sorry about that.

On a side note, I too have trouble with math. I can deal with numbers if I'm using them all the time, but otherwise I can't remember past the basics, and even then I can't remember phone numbers or any of the stuff you guys listed. That's interesting. I wonder if there's some kind of connection? :P
Comment by Clarence Dember on December 26, 2008 at 1:49pm
Great article felch grogan.
In time, the amount of variation per individual route to cognition may prove interesting, beyond the detection of pathology.
YouTube - Synesthesia

Highlights the fascinating perceptual condition of ...
6 min -

Rated 4.9 out of 5.0
Comment by Clarence Dember on December 25, 2008 at 5:41pm
So true- it's a form of energy conservation church goers use....



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