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Study Finds Connection Between Religious Fundamentalism And Damage To The Brain

Why do some people behave like religious fundamentalists? There are a variety of reasons why, including some people just behaving that way because they have such beliefs. But a new study notes that, for some, there’s a deeper explanation.

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A study published in the science journal Neuropsychologia found that damage to areas of the prefrontal cortex of the brain seemed to indirectly influence attitudes of religious fundamentalism in individuals where such injuries were observed, Raw Story reported.

Damage to the brain in this region appeared to diminish the cognitive ability to be open and flexible to other people’s ways of life or belief systems. It also reduced a desire to be curious, creative, and open-minded in general, the study noted.

Overall, those who had severe damage to this area of the brain were more likely to be religious fundamentalists than those whose brains were healthy in the prefrontal cortex.

Religious fundamentalism, it should be noted, isn’t an inherently violent way of behaving, although many fundamentalists have been known to act out in such ways. Rather, religious fundamentalism “represents a push back against some form of external imposition and a profound fear of ‘annihilation,’ often at the hands of modern secularists,” the Brookings Institute pointed out in 2012.

As noted in prior reporting from HillReporter.com, conservatives’ and liberals’ brains tend to behave differently from one another. A 2011 study, for example, found that conservatives, in general, exhibited an “exaggerated neural response” that was higher than what was found in liberals’ brains. Other studies have found that conservatives are more likely to be manipulated by fear than are liberals, based on cognitive research of subjects’ brain patterns.