Could brain thickness point to stronger religious belief? - Tucson News Now

Could brain thickness point to stronger religious belief?

Updated: Dec 26, 2013 02:53 PM
© iStockphoto.com / James Steidl © iStockphoto.com / James Steidl
  • HealthMore>>

  • The 'Hobby Lobby ruling' and what it means for U.S. health care

    The 'Hobby Lobby ruling' and what it means for U.S. health care

    The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on contraception coverage -- as mandated under the Affordable Care Act -- could lead to a legal quagmire that might allow companies to deny insurance coverage for any medical practice that violates their religious principles.
    The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on contraception coverage -- as mandated under the Affordable Care Act -- could lead to a legal quagmire that might allow companies to deny insurance coverage for any medical practice that violates their religious principles.
  • Diet changes can alter gut bacteria

    Diet changes can alter gut bacteria

    Dietary changes can dramatically alter the balance of bacteria in the gut on a daily basis, according to a new study.
    Dietary changes can dramatically alter the balance of bacteria in the gut on a daily basis, according to a new study.
  • Lift U.S. ban on blood donations by gay men

    Lift U.S. ban on blood donations by gay men

    The United States should repeal a 30-year policy that bans blood donations from gay and bisexual men, according to a team of medical and legal experts writing this week in the Journal of the American Medical...
    The United States should repeal a 30-year policy that bans blood donations from gay and bisexual men, according to a team of medical and legal experts writing this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

THURSDAY, Dec. 26, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Higher levels of self-professed spiritual belief appear to be reflected in increased thickness of a key brain area, a new study finds.

Researchers at Columbia University in New York City found that the outer layer of the brain, known as the cortex, is thicker in some areas among people who place a lot of significance on religion.

The study involved 103 adults between the ages of 18 and 54 who were the children and grandchildren of both depressed study participants and those who were not depressed.

A team led by Lisa Miller analyzed how often the participants went to church and the level of importance they placed on religion. This assessment was made twice over the course of five years. Using MRI technology, the cortical thickness of the participants' brains was also measured once.

The study, published Dec. 25 in JAMA Psychiatry, revealed the significance of religion or spirituality was linked with thicker cortices in certain parts of the brain. The effect was stronger among those at high genetic risk for depression than those at lower risk. This was particularly evident in a part of the brain where a thinner cortex may be linked with a familial risk for developing depression, the researchers noted.

Although the importance of religion was tied with thicker cortices in some parts of the brain, the study showed the frequency of church attendance did not have the same association. This was true regardless of the participants' genetic risk for depression.

The findings only show an association between cortical thickness and religious belief "and therefore do not prove a causal association," the study authors stressed.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides more information on the human brain.

Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

  • Latest Health NewsThe Latest from HealthDayMore>>

  • The 'Hobby Lobby ruling' and what it means for U.S. health care

    The 'Hobby Lobby ruling' and what it means for U.S. health care

    The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on contraception coverage -- as mandated under the Affordable Care Act -- could lead to a legal quagmire that might allow companies to deny insurance coverage for any medical practice that violates their religious principles.
    The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on contraception coverage -- as mandated under the Affordable Care Act -- could lead to a legal quagmire that might allow companies to deny insurance coverage for any medical practice that violates their religious principles.
  • Diet changes can alter gut bacteria

    Diet changes can alter gut bacteria

    Dietary changes can dramatically alter the balance of bacteria in the gut on a daily basis, according to a new study.
    Dietary changes can dramatically alter the balance of bacteria in the gut on a daily basis, according to a new study.
  • Lift U.S. ban on blood donations by gay men

    Lift U.S. ban on blood donations by gay men

    The United States should repeal a 30-year policy that bans blood donations from gay and bisexual men, according to a team of medical and legal experts writing this week in the Journal of the American Medical...
    The United States should repeal a 30-year policy that bans blood donations from gay and bisexual men, according to a team of medical and legal experts writing this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.
Powered by WorldNow