Permalink to Unconscious learning underlies belief in God; stronger beliefs in people who can unconsciously predict complex patterns

Unconscious learning underlies belief in God; stronger beliefs in people who can unconsciously predict complex patterns

Individuals who can unconsciously predict complex patterns, an ability called implicit pattern learning, are likely to hold stronger beliefs that there is a god who creates patterns of events in the universe, according to neuroscientists at Georgetown University. Their research, reported in the journal, Nature Communications, is the first to use implicit pattern learning to investigate religious belief. The study spanned two very different cultural and religious groups, one in the U.S. and one in Afghanistan. The goal was to test whether implicit pattern learning is a basis of belief and, if so, whether that connection holds across different faiths and cultures. The researchers indeed found that implicit pattern learning appears to offer a key to understanding a variety of religions. "Belief in a god or gods who intervene in the world to create order is a core element of...

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Permalink to Factors involved in psy­cho­pathy and schizo­phrenia already present in new­born brain cells

Factors involved in psy­cho­pathy and schizo­phrenia already present in new­born brain cells

Would you prefer to be told that your newborn is likely to grow up into a psychopath? Or that they may develop schizophrenia? What if, after receiving a positive result, it would be possible to prevent this from happening? Prognostic factors for psychopathy and schizophrenia can be observed in human brain cells already in the second trimester of pregnancy. In principle, newborns could be tested and their risk of developing a disorder assessed. Whether such testing would engender too much suffering is another matter. "Regardless of the disease, the easiest and least expensive way of reducing suffering is prevention or alleviation in advance," says Professor Jari Koistinaho, director of the Neuroscience Center. Nevertheless, testing would be associated with risks and difficult questions. ...

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