From the Archives: A Debate on Religion and the Brain

artworks-000023945745-0femft-t500x500In 2009, Cerebrum’s editors invited three scientists to debate: Does evolution explain why the human brain supports religious belief? Each side wrote a position paper, which they exchanged, and then each wrote a response to the other’s statement.

Dimitrios Kapogiannis and Jordan Grafman, scientists at the National Institutes of Health, followed up on their then-recent research by stating that brain networks that evolved for other purposes have given rise to our capacity for religious belief and experience. Continue reading

From the Archives: Religion and the Brain

In December 2009, Cerebrum played online host to quite a debate: Does evolution explain why the human brain supports religious belief?

Dimitrios Kapogiannis and Jordan Grafman, scientists at the National Institutes of Health, argued that brain networks that evolved for other purposes have given rise to our capacity for religious belief and experience. Andrew Newberg, the radiologist and psychiatrist who wrote How God Changes Your Brain, argued that the brain may be an instrument of religious experience but is not necessarily the origin of that experience. Each side of the debate first wrote a position statement; they then exchanged statements and wrote rejoinders.

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Jordan Grafman on PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health disorder and so, like depression or schizophrenia, there can be a stigma associated with it. Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives member Jordan Grafman, Ph.D., is the Director of Traumatic Brain Injury Research at the Kessler Foundation and is part of team conducting a long-term study on veterans who sustained head injuries in Vietnam. He views PTSD not just from a clinical perspective.

“How does society accept these human expressions of experience?” Grafman asks. “There have been times when society has suggested, ‘Just shut up and go on with your life.’ Then somebody gets dysfunctional and they’re not going to talk about it because society says it’s a bad thing. In some sense, there’s an aspect to this that’s bigger than the medical view—the sociological view. I don’t think that should be lost.

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