Report: Spirituality caused by brain dysfunction!

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    Feb 13, 2010 4:31 PM GMT
    I want to say I'm shocked, but I'm not... I have thought this for years. At least this might lead to a cure for religion!

    Links to Spirituality Found in the Brain


    Scientists have identified areas of the brain that, when damaged, lead to greater spirituality. The findings hint at the roots of spiritual and religious attitudes, the researchers say.

    The study, published in the Feb. 11 issue of the journal Neuron, involves a personality trait called self-transcendence, which is a somewhat vague measure of spiritual feeling, thinking, and behaviors. Self-transcendence "reflects a decreased sense of self and an ability to identify one's self as an integral part of the universe as a whole," the researchers explain.

    Before and after surgery, the scientists surveyed patients who had brain tumors removed. The surveys generate self-transcendence scores.

    Selective damage to the left and right posterior parietal regions of the brain induced a specific increase in self-transcendence, or ST, the surveys showed.

    "Our symptom-lesion mapping study is the first demonstration of a causative link between brain functioning and ST," said Dr. Cosimo Urgesi from the University of Udine in Italy. "Damage to posterior parietal areas induced unusually fast changes of a stable personality dimension related to transcendental self-referential awareness. Thus, dysfunctional parietal neural activity may underpin altered spiritual and religious attitudes and behaviors."

    Previous neuroimaging studies had linked activity within a large network in the brain that connects the frontal, parietal, and temporal cortexes with spiritual experiences, "but information on the causative link between such a network and spirituality is lacking," explains lead study author, Urgesi said.

    One study, reported in 2008, suggested that the brain's right parietal lobe defines "Me," and people with less active Me-Definers are more likely to lead spiritual lives.

    The finding could lead to new strategies for treating some forms of mental illness.

    "If a stable personality trait like ST can undergo fast changes as a consequence of brain lesions, it would indicate that at least some personality dimensions may be modified by influencing neural activity in specific areas," said Dr. Salvatore M. Aglioti from Sapienza University of Rome. "Perhaps novel approaches aimed at modulating neural activity might ultimately pave the way to new treatments of personality disorders."

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20100212/sc_livescience/linkstospiritualityfoundinthebrain
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    Feb 13, 2010 5:27 PM GMT
    Oh boy, this is gonna be good. This one gets a preemptive Brenda,

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    and three popcorn cats just for good measure.
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    Feb 13, 2010 6:48 PM GMT
    Please don´t confuse spirituality with religious fuckwitism.

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    Feb 13, 2010 6:56 PM GMT
    Lostboy saidPlease don´t confuse spirituality with religious fuckwitism.


    SOMEONE GET G_FARCE BACK
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    Feb 13, 2010 7:01 PM GMT
    Pinny said
    Lostboy saidPlease don´t confuse spirituality with religious fuckwitism.


    SOMEONE GET G_FARCE BACK


    You'll be eating those words if he does
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    Feb 13, 2010 7:18 PM GMT
    Lostboy saidPlease don´t confuse spirituality with religious fuckwitism.



    Well, one leads to the other. And this study is about spirituality being a brain dysfunction. So on the basic level there really isn't any confusion to be had. If the basic group has mental issues then clearly the zealots have it worse.
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    Feb 13, 2010 7:20 PM GMT
    One is free form the other is dogmatic.
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    Feb 13, 2010 7:37 PM GMT
    False belief systems are so funny (well, G_FARCE, too). Folks will reject every other nonsense idea saying "that can't be true" yet, sign off on false belief systems with zero evidence because they were brainwashed from a very young age. It really shows that some humans have a very long way to go yet in terms of rational thought.
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    Feb 13, 2010 7:45 PM GMT
    Hmmm123 saidSelf-transcendence "reflects a decreased sense of self and an ability to identify one's self as an integral part of the universe as a whole," the researchers explain.
    .....
    One study, reported in 2008, suggested that the brain's right parietal lobe defines "Me," and people with less active Me-Definers are more likely to lead spiritual lives.
    This seem to be saying that people that spiritual are less "selfish" and more "selfless" Depending on how you view it that could be good or bad.

    On the other hand are they saying it was the tumor or the hole from the removal that caused the "transcendence" Could they be saying having spirituality is like having a "hole in the head"?

    Interesting stuff icon_eek.gif
  • Little_Spoon

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    Feb 13, 2010 9:03 PM GMT
    Silly.
  • jeepguySD

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    Feb 13, 2010 9:28 PM GMT
    An interesting article, but I wonder how, or if at the all, the researchers isolated the damage caused by the tumor from the psychological effects of surviving a presumably life-threatening illness. I can easily imagine people becoming more spiritual when they fear for their lives.

    I would also like to know how patients with damage to parts of the brain other than the posterior parietal regions compared to those cited in the article. Did those with damage to other parts of the brain experience a statistically significant lower incidence of increased spirituality following their illnesses?

    That is one of the problems with news articles about complex scientific issues: too many details are left out, thus leaving too many unanswered questions.

    I would hope that the article in Neuron adresses all of the questions I posed above. If it did not, then it is sloppy science.
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    Feb 13, 2010 9:30 PM GMT
    Could it be that those who had tumors removed had a religious/spiritual experience or shift? Being close to death I think would certainly give perspective on issues such as 'self'. I think the survey overreached itself a bit; just because those people who have brain lesions have a similar reading to those who are oriented differently (selfless. spiritual?) doesn't show that there is a link between brain lesion and being spiritually oriented. This, to me, only shows that those within this group have larger propensity to be spiritual because of the experience. I think that if this study included other groups with similar experiences it might yield similar results.
  • Space_Cowboy_...

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    Feb 13, 2010 9:45 PM GMT
    We should FW: this to the Pope
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    Feb 13, 2010 11:25 PM GMT
    I would love to see the effect people who are inflicted with narcissism, has on the brain....
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    Feb 13, 2010 11:28 PM GMT
    TheIStrat said
    Pinny said
    Lostboy saidPlease don´t confuse spirituality with religious fuckwitism.


    SOMEONE GET G_FARCE BACK


    You'll be eating those words if he does


    See G_ Force, how empty it feels without you. Coz this looks like a job for you! Coz it's so empty without you...........
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    Feb 14, 2010 2:37 AM GMT
    Lostboy saidPlease don´t confuse spirituality with religious fuckwitism.




    I agree! religiosity have absolutely nothing to do with spirituality! if it is the intent of the OP to assimilate religious people to spiritual people, I am afraid he is the one who may be suffering from a malignant brain tumor!? religious peoples are driven by a doctrine while spiritual people are driven by their own sense of self!! I wonder why atheist weren't also included in the scientific study? after all who is to say they aren't also bound by a false belief system!?


    Leandro ♥
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    Feb 14, 2010 7:28 AM GMT
    ALEZANDAR said
    Lostboy saidPlease don´t confuse spirituality with religious fuckwitism.




    I agree! religiosity have absolutely nothing to do with spirituality! if it is the intent of the OP to assimilate religious people to spiritual people, I am afraid he is the one who may be suffering from a malignant brain tumor!? religious peoples are driven by a doctrine while spiritual people are driven by their own sense of self!! I wonder why atheist weren't also included in the scientific study? after all who is to say they aren't also bound by a false belief system!?


    Leandro ♥


    "Scientists have identified areas of the brain that, when damaged, lead to greater spirituality. The findings hint at the roots of spiritual and religious attitudes, the researchers say." and "Thus, dysfunctional parietal neural activity may underpin altered spiritual and religious attitudes and behaviors."

    The authors of the study equated spirituality and religion. And yes, I do think there is a direct link between spirituality and religion also... duh. "Self-transcendence "reflects a decreased sense of self and an ability to identify one's self as an integral part of the universe as a whole"" i.e. out of touch with reality.

    I have no fear as an atheist that I have any sort of false belief system at all. But I also don't believe "just in case" as many people do.
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    Feb 14, 2010 7:41 AM GMT
    ActiveAndFit said
    Hmmm123 saidSelf-transcendence "reflects a decreased sense of self and an ability to identify one's self as an integral part of the universe as a whole," the researchers explain.
    .....
    One study, reported in 2008, suggested that the brain's right parietal lobe defines "Me," and people with less active Me-Definers are more likely to lead spiritual lives.
    This seem to be saying that people that spiritual are less "selfish" and more "selfless" Depending on how you view it that could be good or bad.


    I disagree with that interpretation. It seems to be saying that some people are able to differentiate themselves more definitively from their environments than other people do. It doesn’t say anything about how either set behaves towards objects outside themselves.

    ~~~~
    More generally, the researchers appear to have avoided making the claim that such brain damage is the only way these brain regions can induce spiritual experiences. Still, I think spiritualists should find it disturbing that their experiences admit a purely material explanation.
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    Feb 14, 2010 8:04 AM GMT
    It's not a dysfunction. It's an underdeveloped area of our brain because our culture forces us to overdevelop the 'self' and therefore the 'beyond self' is widely disconnected. It's also called being egocentric.

    There are two tenets of neuroconnectivity: (1) neurons that fire together, wire together, and (2) use it or lose it. Too much use of the 'self'/ego and every function of your brain is going to wire into it. It's the running commentary that goes on in your head... the same voice that reminds you to, say, remember that you need to pick up eggs at the grocery store after work. We use it too much, though, and it runs amok extending to constant worry and anxiety, becoming a negative feedback loop. Trying to calm that voice (in effect, meditation) corresponds with greater connectivity of what they called the 'transcendor'. Well, children have this before society teaches them that they have a lot of things that they need to remember and worry about.

    I've read that finding happiness and losing our modern anxieties depend on reconnecting with that area of our brain and taking focus off of the 'self'. Doesn't have anything to do with religion except that religious people know how to meditate and pray, calming that worrying voice in their head, and in turn stimulating more normal connections into that transcending area of their brain.

    Don't expect medicine to support that idea, though, because no drugs can ever rewire your brain. Only your own efforts can do it, and it can never be proven in a randomized controlled trial, therefore never scientifically proven.
  • ShanksE

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    Feb 14, 2010 8:25 AM GMT
    Hmmm123 said
    Lostboy saidPlease don´t confuse spirituality with religious fuckwitism.



    Well, one leads to the other. And this study is about spirituality being a brain dysfunction. So on the basic level there really isn't any confusion to be had. If the basic group has mental issues then clearly the zealots have it worse.


    Scientists also said that love was a brain dysfunction.. As someone posted earlier, the trouble is that newspapers report articles by leaving too many facts out..
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    Feb 14, 2010 2:46 PM GMT
    Hmmm123 said
    ALEZANDAR said
    Lostboy saidPlease don´t confuse spirituality with religious fuckwitism.




    I agree! religiosity have absolutely nothing to do with spirituality! if it is the intent of the OP to assimilate religious people to spiritual people, I am afraid he is the one who may be suffering from a malignant brain tumor!? religious peoples are driven by a doctrine while spiritual people are driven by their own sense of self!! I wonder why atheist weren't also included in the scientific study? after all who is to say they aren't also bound by a false belief system!?


    Leandro ♥


    "Scientists have identified areas of the brain that, when damaged, lead to greater spirituality. The findings hint at the roots of spiritual and religious attitudes, the researchers say." and "Thus, dysfunctional parietal neural activity may underpin altered spiritual and religious attitudes and behaviors."

    The authors of the study equated spirituality and religion. And yes, I do think there is a direct link between spirituality and religion also... duh. "Self-transcendence "reflects a decreased sense of self and an ability to identify one's self as an integral part of the universe as a whole"" i.e. out of touch with reality.

    I have no fear as an atheist that I have any sort of false belief system at all. But I also don't believe "just in case" as many people do.




    Self-transcendence is a good thing! it is ones own self interpretation of the world around him!! therefore a necessary to connect with the Universe not only denotes a higher sense of self, but also helps rebuild the so called "dysfunction part of the brain" you are presenting in your argument. The human brain is not just an organ of the body but also a transmitter responsible for the physical, emotional, and ultimately spiritual evolution of the human species. Science and spirituality are both very valuable but they both have very different views of our human existence. Science thrives on the physical aspect of our world while spirituality thrives on the abstract and unseen thus the "spiritual" side of our world. Life as we know is made up of the seen and the unseen! therefore debunking either one of these influential forces is not only absurd but ignorant on our part.

    But since the main purpose of your argument is to prove that spirituality is an unhealthy or a dysfunctional part of our brains?? prove it!! because the facts you and the article presents are purely based on scientific data. When it is well known fact that Spirituality can never be proven in the physical sense that Science can be proven!! while science is based on theories mind you, spirituality is based on each individual's quest to connect himself with the physical and abstract world around him; which in my humble opinion allows one to have a greater sense and connectivity with the physical=scientific world around him, while Science all it can do is to prove their own existence and no nothing else.

    Religious people are not "truly" spiritual because their belief system is based on a external collection of doctrines or beliefs and not of their own, and we know that the consequences and sole purpose of that is to manipulate the self thus in a collective sense "the masses" A "true" Spiritualist on the other hand DO NOT belief in a collective belief system much like religious peoples do! a spiritual person's main source of reality is purely based and centered within their own sense of self and their connectivity with the natural world thus science if you will! Spiritualist know there is more to life as his eyes see it, while atheist tend to ONLY focus on their own sense of being! which is great but not REALISTIC because Life as we know it goes deeper and beyond the self or self preservation!!


    Leandro ♥
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    Feb 14, 2010 3:08 PM GMT
    Hmmm123 saidThe authors of the study equated spirituality and religion. ...I have no fear as an atheist that I have any sort of false belief system at all. But I also don't believe "just in case" as many people do.


    This just shows the whole thing is confused (1) spirituality is NOT the same as religious belief. Spirituality can be tied to things as mundane as finding satisfaction in a well done task or awe at a mountain range and finding some kind of significance or beauty there (2) I am an atheist too. I can guarantee you that both of us believe things which are false. That is the nature of human existence. Thinking you are free from false beliefs is either extreme naivety or extreme arrogance or both.
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    Feb 14, 2010 3:11 PM GMT
    ALEZANDAR said
    Hmmm123 said
    ALEZANDAR said
    Lostboy saidPlease don´t confuse spirituality with religious fuckwitism.




    I agree! religiosity have absolutely nothing to do with spirituality! if it is the intent of the OP to assimilate religious people to spiritual people, I am afraid he is the one who may be suffering from a malignant brain tumor!? religious peoples are driven by a doctrine while spiritual people are driven by their own sense of self!! I wonder why atheist weren't also included in the scientific study? after all who is to say they aren't also bound by a false belief system!?


    Leandro ♥


    "Scientists have identified areas of the brain that, when damaged, lead to greater spirituality. The findings hint at the roots of spiritual and religious attitudes, the researchers say." and "Thus, dysfunctional parietal neural activity may underpin altered spiritual and religious attitudes and behaviors."

    The authors of the study equated spirituality and religion. And yes, I do think there is a direct link between spirituality and religion also... duh. "Self-transcendence "reflects a decreased sense of self and an ability to identify one's self as an integral part of the universe as a whole"" i.e. out of touch with reality.

    I have no fear as an atheist that I have any sort of false belief system at all. But I also don't believe "just in case" as many people do.




    Self-transcendence is a good thing! it is ones own self interpretation of the world around him!! therefore a necessary to connect with the Universe not only denotes a higher sense of self, but also helps rebuild the so called "dysfunction part of the brain" you are presenting in your argument. The human brain is not just an organ of the body but also a transmitter responsible for the physical, emotional, and ultimately spiritual evolution of the human species. Science and spirituality are both very valuable but they both have very different views of our human existence. Science thrives on the physical aspect of our world while spirituality thrives on the abstract and unseen thus the "spiritual" side of our world. Life as we know is made up of the seen and the unseen! therefore debunking either one of these influential forces is not only absurd but ignorant on our part.

    But since the main purpose of your argument is to prove that spirituality is an unhealthy or a dysfunctional part of our brains?? prove it!! because the facts you and the article presents are purely based on scientific data. When it is well known fact that Spirituality can never be proven in the physical sense that Science can be proven!! while science is based on theories mind you, spirituality is based on each individual's quest to connect himself with the physical and abstract world around him; which in my humble opinion allows one to have a greater sense and connectivity with the physical=scientific world around him, while Science all it can do is to prove their own existence and no nothing else.

    Religious people are not "truly" spiritual because their belief system is based on a external collection of doctrines or beliefs and not of their own, and we know that the consequences and sole purpose of that is to manipulate the self thus in a collective sense "the masses" A "true" Spiritualist on the other hand DO NOT belief in a collective belief system much like religious peoples do! a spiritual person's main source of reality is purely based and centered within their own sense of self and their connectivity with the natural world thus science if you will! Spiritualist know there is more to life as his eyes see it, while atheist tend to ONLY focus on their own sense of being! which is great but not REALISTIC because Life as we know it goes deeper and beyond the self or self preservation!!


    Leandro ♥



    Right on, Leandro. Additionally, one could argue that people who choose to dismiss spirituality and only believe in things that can be proven scientifically are actually ignorant. Why? Because they lack the understanding to that aspect of life. However, not one spiritualist or even a religious zealot is kicking around articles here on RJ that suggest such a thing.
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    Feb 14, 2010 3:21 PM GMT
    AlezandarReligious people are not "truly" spiritual because their belief system is based on a external collection of doctrines or beliefs and not of their own, and we know that the consequences and sole purpose of that is to manipulate the self thus in a collective sense "the masses" A "true" Spiritualist on the other hand DO NOT belief in a collective belief system much like religious peoples do! a spiritual person's main source of reality is purely based and centered within their own sense of self and their connectivity with the natural world thus science if you will!
    This assumes a difference between a collective belief and an individual belief. I can believe a scorpion is my lord and savior on an individual basis -- and hold that "belief" and "faith" just as strongly on a personal level as the billions of fundamentalist (whatevers) believe what they believe.

    But to the OP: I can believe that I'm part of a larger design and connected to something bigger than my own short existence on the planet without disregarding the belief that I'll be anything other than worm food when the gig is up. Nor do I have to rest on a belief in "God" to believe that how I live my life impacts the people and planet around me.

    So what I'm saying is this story has a lot of holes in it as other posters have alluded to - and "spirituality" is a very subjective concept.
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    Feb 14, 2010 3:33 PM GMT
    joeyveras said people who choose to dismiss spirituality and only believe in things that can be proven scientifically are actually ignorant.


    No-one only believes in things that can be proven "scientifically". Those who claim that they do are massively deluded.