Andrew M. Seaman, Reuters Dec. 30, 2013, 6:03 PM
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - For people at high risk of depression because of a family history, spirituality may offer some protection for the brain, a new study hints. Parts of the brain's outer layer, the cortex, were thicker in high-risk study participants who said religion or spirituality was "important" to them versus those who cared less about religion.
"Our beliefs and our moods are reflected in our brain and with new imaging techniques we can begin to see this,"Myrna Weissman told Reuters Health. "The brain is an extraordinary organ. It not only controls, but is controlled by our moods."
Weissman, who worked on the new study, is a professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at Columbia Universityand chief of the Clinical-Genetic Epidemiology department at New York State Psychiatric institute.
While the new study suggests a link between brain thickness and religiosity or spirituality, it cannot say that thicker brain regions cause people to be religious or spiritual, Weissman and her colleagues note in JAMA Psychiatry.