Neuroanatomical variability of religiosity reports a magnetic resonance imaging study with voxel-based morphometry for correlating gray matter with religiosity.
 Abstract from CC-by paper
We hypothesized that religiosity, a set of traits variably expressed in the population, is modulated by neuroanatomical variability. We tested this idea by determining whether aspects of religiosity were predicted by variability in regional cortical volume. We performed structural magnetic resonance imaging of the brain in 40 healthy adult participants who reported different degrees and patterns of religiosity on a survey. We identified four Principal Components of religiosity by Factor Analysis of the survey items and associated them with regional cortical volumes measured by voxel-based morphometry. Experiencing an intimate relationship with God and engaging in religious behavior was associated with increased volume of R middle temporal cortex, BA 21. Experiencing fear of God was associated with decreased volume of L precuneus and L orbitofrontal cortex BA 11. A cluster of traits related with pragmatism and doubting God's existence was associated with increased volume of the R precuneus. Variability in religiosity of upbringing was not associated with variability in cortical volume of any region. Therefore, key aspects of religiosity are associated with cortical volume differences. This conclusion complements our prior functional neuroimaging findings in elucidating the proximate causes of religion in the brain.
Group 1 of 40 right-handed healthy adults with 20 males and 20 females were included in the study.
The group had a mean age of 35.7.
The study on the human subjects was approved by the Neuroscience Institutional Review Board of the National Institutes of Health.
The subject group were also used in a functional neuroimaging experiment reported in Cognitive and neural foundations of religious belief.
The brain scans were analyzed with SPM5, so probably they are normalized to MNI space.
Statistical threshold were set to P<0.001 voxel uncorrected and P<0.05 cluster corrected.
Brain scans were correlated with principal component score from the analysis of the religiosity survey. PC1, PC2, PC3 and PC4 refer to the four first principal components.
 PC1: Experiencing an intimate relationship with God (positive correlation)
Table 1, part 1 with 2 coordinates
 PC2: Religiosity of upbringing
No areas exceeded threshold
 -PC3: Non-religious pragmatism (positive correlation)
 PC4: Experiencing fear of God's anger (negative correlation)
Table 1, part 4 with 2 coordinates