Being 'Born-Again' Linked to Brain Atrophy: Study

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Being 'Born-Again' Linked to Brain Atrophy: Study

WEDNESDAY, May 25 (HealthDay News) -- Older adults who say they've had a life-changing religious experience are more likely to have a greater decrease in size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain critical to learning and memory, new research finds.

According to the study, people who said they were a "born-again" Protestant or Catholic, or conversely, those who had no religious affiliation, had more hippocampal shrinkage (or "atrophy") compared to people who identified themselves as Protestants, but not born-again.

The study is published online in PLoS ONE.

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At first, I thought the study was going to show that religious experience might be causing brain damage for the same reason that psychedelic drugs are thought to cause brain damage.  For decades Christians have been railing against drugs, saying (among other things) that they will cause brain damage.  More research should be done, but so far it looks like psychedelics aren't as bad as people thought, with the exception of ecstasy (there are probably others, I don't recall).

Then I read the article, and the researchers concluded that the brain atrophy in people who have had religious experiences might have been caused, not by the experiences themselves, but by the rejection they faced at the hands of their fellow primates.  They said that being in a minority religious position can cause lots of stress, with might atrophy the hippocampus. 

Well, this doesn't look good for atheists, who are even more in the minority than the pentecostal Christians, and who have monumentally less power.  Come to think of it, social rejects might show brain atrophy after years of failure in life.  I want to see the brains of omega males scanned when they're 60 years old, if they make it that far.  They usually commit suicide or go on a murder rampage followed by suicide, destroying their brains in the process. 

On a lighter note, good article.