Correlati neurali della religiosità e delle credenze religiose

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Implicazioni per le origini evolutive e la funzionalità adattiva delle religioni

di Gliberto Corbellini
Sapienza - Università di Roma

Convegno "Le neuroscienze incontrano le altre discipline"
4 maggio 2011
Padova, Palazzo del Bo

Il convegno è promosso dall’Università di Padova e dal Dipartimento di Psicologia generale della stessa università, con il sostegno della Fondazione Sigma Tau e della Fondazione Giannino Bassetti.

Published in: Education, Technology, Spiritual
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Correlati neurali della religiosità e delle credenze religiose

  1. 1. Correlati neurali della religiosità e della credenze religiose: implicazioni per le origini evolutive e la funzionalità adattativa delle religioni Gilberto Corbellini Sapienza – Università di Roma
  2. 2. <ul><li>Religious experiences and believes come to people from the physiological activities of more or less defined neural structures and networks </li></ul><ul><li>No surprise for those who maintain a naturalistic and Darwinian view of human nature </li></ul><ul><li>Perhaps people who defend theological doctrine feel less comfortable… but at the same time the news will priests stop worrying, as they will never be unemployed </li></ul><ul><li>Instead being disappointed, materialists should enjoy the intellectual challenges raised by the possible evolutionary implications of data emerging from the experimental investigations of neural correlates of religiosity and religious believes </li></ul>
  3. 3. NEURAL BASIS OF RELIGION from J. Bulbulia, 2010 <ul><li>Persinger ’ s (2001) temporal lobe hypothesis (in search of a God spot) – not replicated data </li></ul><ul><li>Newberg ’ s focal lesioning hypothesis (deliberate suppression of neural processing causes the subjective experience of dissolution of self) </li></ul><ul><li>Beauregard and Plaquette ’ s hypothesis of dedicated circuits for mystical experience </li></ul><ul><li>Benson ’ s relaxation hypothesis (neurological markers of religion are involved in anxiety regulation) </li></ul><ul><li>Persinger ’ s (2009) religion as consolation for death awareness hypothesis </li></ul><ul><li>Boyer et al. ’ s hypothesis of a common neurological basis for ritualized behavior and OCD (adaptive to avoid unobserved threats) </li></ul><ul><li>McNamara ’ s unified self construction hypothesis (reduce uncertainty and foster cooperation) </li></ul><ul><li>Cognitive psychologists ’ hypotheses assuming the involvement of neural areas and networks supporting Theory of Mind and social cooperation </li></ul><ul><li>… </li></ul>
  4. 4. PNAS 106 (12), 2009: 4876-4881
  5. 6. Religiosity traits correlate (in ways which are context dependent) with less health problems (more often mental health problems related to anxiety) and the activation of some neural correlates of religiosity seems to improve individual pain management
  6. 7. There is an immense amount of data on this subject, and it indicates conclusively that religious people really are happier and better off emotionally that their secular counterparts p. 43
  7. 8. … among young adults, the relationship between internalized, personal devotion and life satisfaction and between personal fulfillment through prayer and meditation occurs through the influence of social support and optimism. … religiousness and spirituality are both multidimensional constructs, and these dimensions will demonstrate different patterns of relationships depending on the dimension assessed and the outcome of interest. For example, extrinsic religiousness was not significantly associated with psychological distress or with satisfaction with life. In contrast, intrinsic religiousness and prayer fulfillment were significantly associated with satisfaction with life.
  8. 12. Stress Osteoarthritis Fractures Congenital deformations Neoplasms Chronic infections  Clinical appearances of illness, together with the causes of diseases, as relevant selective factors, that likely contribute to the shaping of hunter-gathers behavioral traits. Disease, pain and suffering in human evolution
  9. 14. The costly signaling theory of religion … performing a ritual indexicallly signals the acceptance of the moral values implicit in the ritual but also signals belief in the doctrines that support and provide meaning for the ritual. … supernatural beliefs are proximate mechanims that facilitate the efficient functioning of religious signals.
  10. 16. Whether religiosity and religious believes were functional in the Paleolithic physical and socio-cultural environments, maybe a mismatch could be the remote cause of the social and individual deleterious effects of religions in post-agricultural and modern societies

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