Sam Harris et al on the neurology of belief, disbelief and uncertainty

In a paper recently published in the Annals of Neurology, Sam Harris, Mark Cohen, and Sameer Sheth measured the brain activity of subjects as they evaluated propositions as being either true or false, or declaring uncertainty. Harris et al found different patterns of brain activation across the three judgments.

This isn’t really shocking. As discussed in a post a few days ago, it is not a big surprise when different cognitive states correspond to different neurological states. In fact, this is one of the tenets of modern cognitive neuroscience.

What would be interesting to find out, though, is how neurological activation patterns of religious people asked to evaluate the validity of religious statements compare to activation patterns for belief, disbelief and uncertainty in other domains. A potential confounding factor that would need to be understood and accounted for in such a study would be potential differences in relevant neurological activity (i.e., activity in brain regions believed to be involved in different truth judgments) as a function of subject matter (e.g., religion versus history).

2 Responses to “Sam Harris et al on the neurology of belief, disbelief and uncertainty”
  1. Andrew says:

    It’s great to hear about all the activity going on in studies of neurology. As a full-time student of philosophy, I unfortunately don’t have the time these days to study or keep up too much with what’s going on in the field of neurology. However, I’m very excited with the progress of this field and enjoy hearing about updates via this blog!

  2. ronbrown says:

    Glad to be of service!

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