Does Religion Hurt Your Brain?

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Does religion hurt your brain?

This sounds like an Onion headline:

Religious Experiences Shrink Part of the Brain

Which would explain why hasidim wear black coats in 100-degree weather. Ba-dum-bump!

Scientific American explains:

The results showed significantly greater hippocampal atrophy in individuals reporting a life-changing religious experience. In addition, they found significantly greater hippocampal atrophy among born-again Protestants, Catholics, and those with no religious affiliation, compared with Protestants not identifying as born-again.

The authors offer the hypothesis that the greater hippocampal atrophy in selected religious groups might be related to stress. They argue that some individuals in the religious minority, or those who struggle with their beliefs, experience higher levels of stress. This causes a release of stress hormones that are known to depress the volume of the hippocampus over time.

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