Where Religious Belief And Disbelief Meet


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petrossa
petrossa and lamchopz, great thread! I read all the pages and was very interesting.

All kudo's go to Lamchopz for being tenacious and patient enough to stand my battering his scientific faith. :p

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lamminium

I had to defend my points because I was exposed to this field and designed experiments using neuroimaging. The science behind it makes it an acceptable tool. As far as the OP goes, the experimental design is quite adequate plus their conclusion is only an initial suggestion. What is intriguing, though, is the fact that two opposing modes of thinking appear to involve the same area - something that needs to be investigated. Perhaps there are two opposing pathways related to this region, for instance.

I just don't see how people jump to various conclusions given the limited scope of the study. o.o

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petrossa
I had to defend my points because I was exposed to this field and designed experiments using neuroimaging. The science behind it makes it an acceptable tool. As far as the OP goes, the experimental design is quite adequate plus their conclusion is only an initial suggestion. What is intriguing, though, is the fact that two opposing modes of thinking appear to involve the same area - something that needs to be investigated. Perhaps there are two opposing pathways related to this region, for instance.

I just don't see how people jump to various conclusions given the limited scope of the study. o.o

Occam is quite clear on this: when 2 opposing modes appear to involve the same area the proposition is false.

As it is false, the current level of neuroimagery is inadequate as a tool to determine such high order processes. No need to look any further.

Better wait till you've got correct answers for the most basic functions of the brain before venturing on this road. Time and money better spend.

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lamminium
Occam is quite clear on this: when 2 opposing modes appear to involve the same area the proposition is false.

As it is false, the current level of neuroimagery is inadequate as a tool to determine such high order processes. No need to look any further.

Better wait till you've got correct answers for the most basic functions of the brain before venturing on this road. Time and money better spend.

When did Occam say that? I can point you to several examples of opposing modes occurring in the same region. So even if Occam did state such things, he wasn't exactly right.

One is the patellar reflex.

Another is the dopamine pathway involving D1 and D2 receptors in the brain. A good case for this is Parkinson's disease.

As a general example, the brain utilises glutamate and GABA to excite and inhibit, respectively, target neurons. This is how the motor area and thus the muscle tone is regulated. However, the number of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters/neuromodulators is more than two. These discoveries came from both in vitro and in vivo studies.

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petrossa
When did Occam say that? I can point you to several examples of opposing modes occurring in the same region. So even if Occam did state such things, he wasn't exactly right.

One is the patellar reflex.

Another is the dopamine pathway involving D1 and D2 receptors in the brain. A good case for this is Parkinson's disease.

As a general example, the brain utilises glutamate and GABA to excite and inhibit, respectively, target neurons. This is how the motor area and thus the muscle tone is regulated. However, the number of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters/neuromodulators is more than two. These discoveries came from both in vitro and in vivo studies.

Occam's razor states that the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible, eliminating those that make no difference in the observable predictions of the explanatory hypothesis or theory. The principle is often expressed in Latin as the lex parsimoniae (translating to the law of parsimony, law of economy or law of succinctness). When competing hypotheses are equal in other respects, the principle recommends selection of the hypothesis that introduces the fewest assumptions and postulates the fewest entities while still sufficiently answering the question. It is in this sense that Occam's razor is usually understood.?

As far your example of neurotransmittors, they are a balance. There's not one causing something, it's the whole balance of neurotransmittors that causes something.

More of one, suppresses the action of another, which turn can augment the effect of yet another. The whole mess is just in the very early stages of being understood.

In your example, GABA, it's a regulator of the flow of ions in the cell through modulation of the chloride channels. So GABA is just one of several regulating voltage.

It's inhibitory/exitory effect wholly depends on the current state of the cell which is being influenced by other factors.

So as an analogy it's completely wrong.

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lamminium
Occam's razor states that the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible, eliminating those that make no difference in the observable predictions of the explanatory hypothesis or theory. The principle is often expressed in Latin as the lex parsimoniae (translating to the law of parsimony, law of economy or law of succinctness). When competing hypotheses are equal in other respects, the principle recommends selection of the hypothesis that introduces the fewest assumptions and postulates the fewest entities while still sufficiently answering the question. It is in this sense that Occam's razor is usually understood.

As far your example of neurotransmittors, they are a balance. There's not one causing something, it's the whole balance of neurotransmittors that causes something.

More of one, suppresses the action of another, which turn can augment the effect of yet another. The whole mess is just in the very early stages of being understood.

In your example, GABA, it's a regulator of the flow of ions in the cell through modulation of the chloride channels. So GABA is just one of several regulating voltage.

It's inhibitory/exitory effect wholly depends on the current state of the cell which is being influenced by other factors.

So as an analogy it's completely wrong.

Occam's Razor has a stronger form: Everything should be as simplest as possible, but not simpler. In your reasoning, you tend to assume the stance of the last word, i.e. you tend to simplify everything without taking into other relevant factors.

As you suggested:

when 2 opposing modes appear to involve the same area the proposition is false.

Occam's Razor does not forbid that because the number of hypotheses are sufficient and necessary.

As an exercise, could you suggest another alternative that involves one single pathway?

My example of neurotransmitters goes well with your statement. Glutamate itself excites, GABA itself inhibits yet they work in concert in the same region, i.e. "two opposing modes in the same area" proposition. So why is it so inconceivable to you that religious and nonreligious modes could be accounted for by two opposing molecular pathways in the same brain region? (Keep in mind, this is only my suggestion of the underlying mechanism)

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petrossa
My example of neurotransmitters goes well with your statement. Glutamate itself excites, GABA itself inhibits yet they work in concert in the same region, i.e. "two opposing modes in the same area" proposition. So why is it so inconceivable to you that religious and nonreligious modes could be accounted for by two opposing molecular pathways in the same brain region? (Keep in mind, this is only my suggestion of the underlying mechanism)

That goes lame Lam, because putting it like that has no bearing on the premise. Again you start to split up the issue in it's components and once you start on that road you end up as i pointed out before in the laws of change area that is quantum mechanics.

The "two opposing modes in the same area" is i put forward involve neural networks. The unit functions as a whole, it functioning automatically implies the proper neurotransmitter balance is there.

Whilst the plasticity of the brain does allow for on the fly reconfiguration of neural networks to help sorting out a problem, it cannot configure on the fly to make the visual cortex interpret audio signals, ?which is possible but would take a very long time of training.

One could imagine considering neural networks to be reusable subroutines, as in programming, but to a degree. At one point you'll need a taskmanager, the core program.

Since it has been definitively demonstrated that religious experiences/convictions have a dedicated area in the brain, since that area is in no way involved in the logic process as put forward in the OP the results shown in the OP have nothing to do with religious belief as such in any direct form.

So the OP shows something, but not what to writer proposes.

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lamminium
That goes lame Lam, because putting it like that has no bearing on the premise. Again you start to split up the issue in it's components and once you start on that road you end up as i pointed out before in the laws of change area that is quantum mechanics.

The "two opposing modes in the same area" is i put forward involve neural networks. The unit functions as a whole, it functioning automatically implies the proper neurotransmitter balance is there.

See this is where our thinking styles diverge: neural functions come down to molecular basis. You can hypothesis whatever but if you cannot suggest a (at least tangible) physiological mechanism for it, your hypothesis will be very poorly received.

Whilst the plasticity of the brain does allow for on the fly reconfiguration of neural networks to help sorting out a problem, it cannot configure on the fly to make the visual cortex interpret audio signals, which is possible but would take a very long time of training.

see above

One could imagine considering neural networks to be reusable subroutines, as in programming, but to a degree. At one point you'll need a taskmanager, the core program.

Since it has been definitively demonstrated that religious experiences/convictions have a dedicated area in the brain, since that area is in no way involved in the logic process as put forward in the OP the results shown in the OP have nothing to do with religious belief as such in any direct form.

How are you so sure that the region detected has nothing to do with logic process? Unless you're making an assumption?

Which brings me to ask: what is that "dedicated area"? Surely it has a name.

So the OP shows something, but not what to writer proposes.

If you can suggest what that something is, the authors would be very interested in hearing it.

Edited by lamchopz
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petrossa
See this is where our thinking styles diverge: neural functions come down to molecular basis. You can hypothesis whatever but if you cannot suggest a (at least tangible) physiological mechanism for it, your hypothesis will be very poorly received.

That's complete and utter nonsense. Sorry Lam, but neural networks function and do things. How they work on a molecular level is completely irrelevant. Artifical neural networks function well, without describing at each action all the IC's logical circuits.

How are you so sure that the region detected has nothing to do with logic process? Unless you're making an assumption?

Since this has been proven by open skull surgery. The persons in question could very well talk logically whilst the area was stimulated, but just had religious experiences.

Which brings me to ask: what is that "dedicated area"? Surely it has a name.

Just one of 100's like it:

Classics in Epilepsy and Behavior: 1970 Sudden religious conversions in temporal lobe epilepsy Kenneth Dewhurst Epilepsy & Behavior 4 (2003) 78–87 www.elsevier.com/locate/yebeh and A.W. Beard Research Psychiatrist, Littlemore Hospital, Oxford, UK Physician in Psychological Medicine, The Middlesex Hospital, W.1, UK

http://www.uni-graz.at/~schulter/se04_religiosity.pdf

If you can suggest what that something is, the authors would be very interested in hearing it.

I suggest they measure the activity of the current task manager.

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McCordRm

Okay, so I'm slow. I'm just now getting around to reading this thread.

I have some issues with the experiment, itself.

First, this line: "...while thinking about ordinary facts is more reliant upon memory retrieval networks."

To someone who is submerged in their Faith, wouldn't recalling biblical text about Angels be NO DIFFERENT than

someone remembering an article on eagles from their textbook? So my question is, when asking people about

eagles... did they ensure all participants had ever SEEN an eagle before? This would make a great deal of

difference. If one had never seen an eagle, then believing the textbook could be construed at an act of Faith,

just like having never seen an angle one is dependant upon the Bible.

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lamminium
That's complete and utter nonsense. Sorry Lam, but neural networks function and do things. How they work on a molecular level is completely irrelevant. Artifical neural networks function well, without describing at each action all the IC's logical circuits.

Good. Glad we're getting somewhere.

Now, there are two points to consider:

- Your hypothesis is just as good as anyone's in the area of brain functions because it's not readily observable. This is why psychology was traditionally an arts subject and not recognised as science (do a bit of history search and you shall see. Psychology is now a science because it has changed its methodology). Your responses are characteristic of such as you dwell too much on the large scale philosophy without investigating the molecular processes that make up your postulated functions. I consider neurophysiology a better approach to the study of the brain and its functions.

- There is an important motivation to propose an underlying mechanism for any hypothesis. That is, to ensure that the hypothesis actually works! A straightforward consequence of this is that two people may propose two hypotheses for the same observation. How would you know which one to accept?

Since this has been proven by open skull surgery. The persons in question could very well talk logically whilst the area was stimulated, but just had religious experiences.

Just one of 100's like it:

Classics in Epilepsy and Behavior: 1970 Sudden religious conversions in temporal lobe epilepsy Kenneth Dewhurst Epilepsy & Behavior 4 (2003) 78–87 www.elsevier.com/locate/yebeh and A.W. Beard Research Psychiatrist, Littlemore Hospital, Oxford, UK Physician in Psychological Medicine, The Middlesex Hospital, W.1, UK

http://www.uni-graz.at/~schulter/se04_religiosity.pdf

Again there are two points to consider here:

- You rejected the reliability of fMRI yet the study mentioned utilised EEG which is another neuroimaging technique. But hey, EEG worked! They spotted the temporal lobe's increased activity (due to epilepsy) and ablated the region. Surprisingly, you're OK with EEG that brings low spatial resolution and is also subjected to artifacts but is cynical about fMRI which provides a higher spatial resolution. If the OP's authors could remove VMPF area, I'm sure they would. So where does that bring us? "The religiosity in epileptic patients is demonstrated to be associated with the temporal lobe" is what you should have concluded. "Dedicated" is not what has been claimed. Like the visual areas can have primary and secondary regions, religiosity may involve multiple ones because sensibly, it is a higher order function.

- You were spot on in stating: "The persons in question could very well talk logically whilst the area was stimulated, but just had religious experiences" and that goes back to the authors' note:

A comparison of all religious with all nonreligious statements suggested that religious thinking is more associated with brain regions that govern emotion, self-representation and cognitive conflict in both believers and nonbelievers, while thinking about ordinary facts is more reliant upon memory retrieval networks. Activity in the brain's anterior cingulate cortex, an area associated with cognitive conflict and uncertainty, suggested that both believers and nonbelievers experienced greater uncertainty when evaluating religious statements.

The study raises the possibility that the differences between belief and disbelief may one day be reliably distinguished by neuroimaging techniques.

The area was stimulated because there was a demand for it. This demand may be plural in nature: emotion, cognition and memory retrieval.?

I suggest they measure the activity of the current task manager.

Where and what is the current task manager? This is like telling a mailman to send a letter without an address on it.

Okay, so I'm slow. I'm just now getting around to reading this thread.

I have some issues with the experiment, itself.

First, this line: "...while thinking about ordinary facts is more reliant upon memory retrieval networks."

To someone who is submerged in their Faith, wouldn't recalling biblical text about Angels be NO DIFFERENT than

someone remembering an article on eagles from their textbook? So my question is, when asking people about

eagles... did they ensure all participants had ever SEEN an eagle before? This would make a great deal of

difference. If one had never seen an eagle, then believing the textbook could be construed at an act of Faith,

just like having never seen an angle one is dependant upon the Bible.

The study design would have accommodated that. The difference that was being appealed to is that eagles exist in our world and angels don't. As such, a religious person would have, presumably, made a further inference to "faith" to coordinate a response.?

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McCordRm
The study design would have accommodated that. The difference that was being appealed to is that eagles exist in our world and angels don't. As such, a religious person would have, presumably, made a further inference to "faith" to coordinate a response.?

How, and where? I didn't see ANY mention of that. When it comes to a "scientific" study, I prefer not to assume anything.

Further, you say that Angels don't exist in our world. To someone that believes they do, then they do. For example, I've never

seen some of the species which live in the ocean. If I heard someone describing such a creature, it could very well be fantasy

to me. Or the Moon's effect on the tides.. this isn't something I can quantify with any substance- and trying to explain how

an object a million miles away is influencing the sea could come across as crazy. BUT, after hearing such a description, how

would my brain patterns show? Would they be like the guy asked of eagles, or the guy asked of angles?

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petrossa
Again there are two points to consider here:

- You rejected the reliability of fMRI yet the study mentioned utilised EEG which is another neuroimaging technique. But hey, EEG worked! They spotted the temporal lobe's increased activity (due to epilepsy) and ablated the region. Surprisingly, you're OK with EEG that brings low spatial resolution and is also subjected to artifacts but is cynical about fMRI which provides a higher spatial resolution. If the OP's authors could remove VMPF area, I'm sure they would. So where does that bring us? "The religiosity in epileptic patients is demonstrated to be associated with the temporal lobe" is what you should have concluded. "Dedicated" is not what has been claimed. Like the visual areas can have primary and secondary regions, religiosity may involve multiple ones because sensibly, it is a higher order function.

I guess i'll let you read up on transcranial magnetic stimulation yourself. As i wrote, 1 of the 100's of likewise reports. They range from this one to observations made with stroke patients. They all reflect the same: there is a specialized area in the brain that is responsible for religious/mystical experiences.

Where and what is the current task manager? This is like telling a mailman to send a letter without an address on it.

http://www.dice.ucl.ac.be/Proceedings/esann/esannpdf/es2002-350.pdf recommended reading

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lamminium
How, and where? I didn't see ANY mention of that. When it comes to a "scientific" study, I prefer not to assume anything.

Further, you say that Angels don't exist in our world. To someone that believes they do, then they do. For example, I've never

seen some of the species which live in the ocean. If I heard someone describing such a creature, it could very well be fantasy

to me. Or the Moon's effect on the tides.. this isn't something I can quantify with any substance- and trying to explain how

an object a million miles away is influencing the sea could come across as crazy. BUT, after hearing such a description, how

would my brain patterns show? Would they be like the guy asked of eagles, or the guy asked of angles?

OK. As a citizen in the modern world, you're exposed to various media platforms. If you've never seen an eagle in real life, you will have learnt about it at school, seen on TV, posters, ads, etc. This is not a crazy assumption. The researchers would not be dumb to invite someone with impaired intellect to participate in this. This is not a crazy assumption, either. So you have seen "eagle" in everyday life experience but do you see "angels" in the same manner? That's what differentiates "faith" from "lack of faith". You believe what you physically see; fair enough. But would you believe what you don't see? This is the key.

Also, in the design, the lesser known animals would be out of the question. That's why they chose "eagle" and not "finch".

In research, you try to control as many variables as you can but when it comes to subjects, especially humans, there are things that are beyond your reach but you can minimise the impact by selecting the subjects carefully.

I guess i'll let you read up on transcranial magnetic stimulation yourself. As i wrote, 1 of the 100's of likewise reports. They range from this one to observations made with stroke patients. They all reflect the same: there is a specialized area in the brain that is responsible for religious/mystical experiences.

Science is based on progressive ideas. I am not saying VMFP cortex is definitely the source but it is at least associated with religiosity (because that's as far as fMRI can tell). Why do you keep clinging to the old steadfast "this is this and that is that" so "this which is not that cannot happen"? 50 years ago, people believed that all adult neurons were post-mitotic but now the picture is not quite as black and white since we have observed mature neurons differentiate (but what this does is still a question).

Doesn't answer my question. This is a real experiment with a real brain. Tell me where and what to measure.

Edited by lamchopz
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petrossa
Science is based on progressive ideas. I am not saying VMFP cortex is definitely the source but it is at least associated with religiosity (because that's as far as fMRI can tell). Why do you keep clinging to the old steadfast "this is this and that is that" so "this which is not that cannot happen"? 50 years ago, people believed that all adult neurons were post-mitotic but now the picture is not quite as black and white since we have observed mature neurons differentiate (but what this does is still a question).

By your reasoning the spinal cord is associated with religiosity because it shows activity at the time you read the bible. Correlation != Causality.

Doesn't answer my question. This is a real experiment with a real brain. Tell me where and what to measure.

Did answer question, but you didn't read it or you're the world record holder on comprehensive speedreading.

It explains the basic workings of neural networks, and how your demand for the address of the taskmanager doesn't apply.

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lamminium
Science is based on progressive ideas. I am not saying VMFP cortex is definitely the source but it is at least associated with religiosity (because that's as far as fMRI can tell). Why do you keep clinging to the old steadfast "this is this and that is that" so "this which is not that cannot happen"? 50 years ago, people believed that all adult neurons were post-mitotic but now the picture is not quite as black and white since we have observed mature neurons differentiate (but what this does is still a question).

By your reasoning the spinal cord is associated with religiosity because it shows activity at the time you read the bible. Correlation != Causality.

?

Misread? I said "associated".

Unless you show that spinal cord is involved in processing higher order functions, I don't see how that relates to this.

Did answer question, but you didn't read it or you're the world record holder on comprehensive speedreading.?

It explains the basic workings of neural networks, and how your demand for the address of the taskmanager doesn't apply.

Probably I'm missing something but we're talking about a real brain here? An artificial neural network (ANN) is free of many factors that the real brain has to experience. First you know the exact number of neurons in the ANN while you have no clue how many the particular human brain has. Second, the neuronal connections aren't just parallel and sequential. It's a mesh where systems project to other areas which send projections back. Third, the nature of the synapses makes it complicated and this is the one thing that ANNs fail to replicate. So how exactly will you measure the task manager activity? I'm curious.

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petrossa
?

Misread? I said "associated".

Unless you show that spinal cord is involved in processing higher order functions, I don't see how that relates to this.

I just followed your train of logic to its end conclusion. If a certain part of the brain gets more active whilst doing a certain task and you conclude the two are interdependent and therefore involved in the higher order process of believing, then logically the spinal cord getting more active sending signals to your arms and hands to hold the bible are also involved in the higher order process and involved in believing.

Probably I'm missing something but we're talking about a real brain here? An artificial neural network (ANN) is free of many factors that the real brain has to experience. First you know the exact number of neurons in the ANN while you have no clue how many the particular human brain has. Second, the neuronal connections aren't just parallel and sequential. It's a mesh where systems project to other areas which send projections back. Third, the nature of the synapses makes it complicated and this is the one thing that ANNs fail to replicate. So how exactly will you measure the task manager activity? I'm curious.

A real brain is just a very complicated collection of neural networks. Since artificial brains have been constructed and been shown to work exactly like bio neural networks one can use the first as a model for the second.

A neural network is a neural network, having a lot of them doesn't change the basic operation of it.

Given:?

Modeling Neurons

Neurons are not all alike - they come in a variety of complex shapes. The precise shape and structure of a neuron influences its electrical properties and connectivity with other neurons. A neuron's electrical properties are determined to a large extent by a variety of ion channels distributed in varying densities throughout the cell's membrane. Scientists have been collecting data on neuron morphology and electrical behavior of the juvenile rat in the laboratory for many years, and this data is used as the basis for a model that is run on the Blue Gene to recreate each of the 10,000 neurons in the NCC.

Modeling connections

To model the neocortical column, it is essential to understand the composition, density and distribution of the numerous cortical cell types. Each class of cells is present in specific layers of the column. The precise density of each cell type and the volume of the space it occupies provides essential information for cell positioning and constructing the foundation of the cortical circuit. Each neuron is connected to thousands of its neighbors at points where their dendrites or axons touch, known as synapses. In a column with 10,000 neurons, this translates into trillions of possible connections. The Blue Gene is used in this extremely computationally intensive calculation to fix the synapse locations, "jiggling" individual neurons in 3D space to find the optimal connection scenario.

Modeling the column

The result of all these calculations is a re-creation, at the cellular level, of the neocortical column, the basic microcircuit of the brain. In this case, it's the cortical column of a juvenile rat. This is the only biologically accurate replica to date of the NCC - the neurons are biologically realistic and their connectivity is optimized. This would be impossible without the huge computational capacity of the Blue Gene. A model of the NCC was completed at the end of 2006.

In November, 2007, The Blue Brain Project officially announced the conclusion of Phase I of the project, with three specific acheivements:

1. A new modeling framework for automatic, on-demand construction of neural circuits built from biological data

2. A new simulation and calibration process that automatically and systematically analyzes the biological accuracy and consistency of each revision of the model

3. The first cellular-level neocortical column model built entirely from biological data that can now serve as a key tool for simulation-based research

http://bluebrain.epfl.ch/?

One can and does use ANN for measuring/manipulating 'taskmanagers'

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lamminium
I just followed your train of logic to its end conclusion. If a certain part of the brain gets more active whilst doing a certain task and you conclude the two are interdependent and therefore involved in the higher order process of believing, then logically the spinal cord getting more active sending signals to your arms and hands to hold the bible are also involved in the higher order process and involved in believing.

That's logical fallacy. The spinal cord is the lower station relaying the executive instructions from the brain to the rest of the body in this case. The general practice in research is that: "Hey, something happens there. Let's check it out" but not "let's check all places, including the ones we have shown to be irrelevant in past literature". Key point here is: The literature has never stated that VMFP area was not involved in religiosity. So why you're so adamant that it has nothing to do with the topic is completely beyond me.?

Using your logic, I can say the sympathetic nerves innervating the sweat glands are also involved in processing emotional memory because they are activated when the stimulus is applied.?

A real brain is just a very complicated collection of neural networks. Since artificial brains have been constructed and been shown to work exactly like bio neural networks one can use the first as a model for the second.

A neural network is a neural network, having a lot of them doesn't change the basic operation of it.

Given:?

Modeling Neurons

Neurons are not all alike - they come in a variety of complex shapes. The precise shape and structure of a neuron influences its electrical properties and connectivity with other neurons. A neuron's electrical properties are determined to a large extent by a variety of ion channels distributed in varying densities throughout the cell's membrane. Scientists have been collecting data on neuron morphology and electrical behavior of the juvenile rat in the laboratory for many years, and this data is used as the basis for a model that is run on the Blue Gene to recreate each of the 10,000 neurons in the NCC.

Modeling connections?

To model the neocortical column, it is essential to understand the composition, density and distribution of the numerous cortical cell types. Each class of cells is present in specific layers of the column. The precise density of each cell type and the volume of the space it occupies provides essential information for cell positioning and constructing the foundation of the cortical circuit. Each neuron is connected to thousands of its neighbors at points where their dendrites or axons touch, known as synapses. In a column with 10,000 neurons, this translates into trillions of possible connections. The Blue Gene is used in this extremely computationally intensive calculation to fix the synapse locations, "jiggling" individual neurons in 3D space to find the optimal connection scenario.?

Modeling the column

The result of all these calculations is a re-creation, at the cellular level, of the neocortical column, the basic microcircuit of the brain. In this case, it's the cortical column of a juvenile rat. This is the only biologically accurate replica to date of the NCC - the neurons are biologically realistic and their connectivity is optimized. This would be impossible without the huge computational capacity of the Blue Gene. A model of the NCC was completed at the end of 2006.

In November, 2007, The Blue Brain Project officially announced the conclusion of Phase I of the project, with three specific acheivements:

1. A new modeling framework for automatic, on-demand construction of neural circuits built from biological data

2. A new simulation and calibration process that automatically and systematically analyzes the biological accuracy and consistency of each revision of the model

3. The first cellular-level neocortical column model built entirely from biological data that can now serve as a key tool for simulation-based research

http://bluebrain.epfl.ch/?

One can and does use ANN for measuring/manipulating 'taskmanagers'

I do look forward to ANNs and I have read some of the physics behind them a real brain in a real humanman, how you go about measuring the "task managers" is beyond me.?

In research, we do employ models which I have more or less been exposed to. What I am talking about here is the practicality of your suggestion. In a real experiment, you don't tell people to measure "this" without laying a practical plan on how to achieve it.?

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petrossa
?Key point here is: The literature has never stated that VMFP area was not involved in religiosity. So why you're so adamant that it has nothing to do with the topic is completely beyond me.?

Because i see it as a transit point of already formed religiosity. So to me it has only relation in being a conduit, the actual belief is formed elsewhere. And from that context the spinal cord analogy holds water.

Using your logic, I can say the sympathetic nerves innervating the sweat glands are also involved in processing emotional memory because they are activated when the stimulus is applied.?

No its your logic not mine. I just followed your logic train to its endpoint.

I do look forward to ANNs and I have read some of the physics behind them but a real brain in a real human/i>, how you go about measuring the "task managers" is beyond me.?

Beyond me as well. I just hazarded the guess that the activity observed in the OP might just as well have been that of the taskmanager and not that of the task since the task of religiosity has been definitely proven to be performed by a dedicated part of the brain which is not the part lighting up in the OP.

QED

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lamminium
Because i see it as a transit point of already formed religiosity. So to me it has only relation in being a conduit, the actual belief is formed elsewhere. And from that context the spinal cord analogy holds water.

Perhaps you missed the "content-independent" comment in the OP. What is a conduit in this case really? Again, as long as it has never been proven to be false, you don't have the authority to dispute it unless you can prove conclusively that it's not the case. Past neuroimaging studies suggested that the temporal lobe was involved. You're extrapolating the result by saying it is the only thing possible.

Religiosity is a broad term that includes a lot of things such as memory, cognition and logic which have been individually shown to be associated with various brain regions so pinning it down to a particular area even though a new study suggests something else is regressive, not progressive (mind you, the hippocampal volume was also shown to be associated with religiosity). How all of these play out is still a matter of research. If you're so sure that you're right, I suggest you join the research community.

No its your logic not mine. I just followed your logic train to its endpoint.

I followed your line of logic exactly. The emotional memory was formed in the amygdala but sympathetic nerve also gets activated like the brain and the spinal cord analogy.

But in my logic, the VMPF cortex was known to be involved in executive decision making which can affect religiosity. Your spinal cord example took a totally different spin.

Beyond me as well. I just hazarded the guess that the activity observed in the OP might just as well have been that of the taskmanager and not that of the task since the task of religiosity has been definitely proven to be performed by a dedicated part of the brain which is not the part lighting up in the OP.

QED

Occam's Razor: All hypotheses should be as simple as possible, but not simpler.

I am not advocating that the VMPF cortex has to be the generator of religiosity. That is not what the OP claims. What irks me is that the OP only makes suggestions which warrant further investigation and you jump all over it by means of denial and self-construed understanding. You can read thousands of articles but as long as you don't know how it works under the skin, you should not make antagonistic comments. I like seeing people discussing science but if one is to reject something, he/she has to have some credentials in the field.

Edit: fixed the acronym.

Edited by lamchopz
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petrossa
I am not advocating that the VMFP cortex has to be the generator of religiosity. That is not what the OP claims. What irks me is that the OP only makes suggestions which warrant further investigation and you jump all over it by means of denial and self-construed understanding. You can read thousands of articles but as long as you don't know how it works under the skin, you should not make antagonistic comments. I like seeing people discussing science but if one is to reject something, he/she has to have some credentials in the field.

Don't get irked Lam. Bad for the heart. Credentials mean squat as many scientific blunders have adequately proven.

Climategate has shown clearly how proper credentials are nothing but perception. Arguments founded on empirical science are valid no matter how forwards them.

For what the OP concerns.

It's faulty. The method is faulty, the observations are based on wobbly uncertain imaging techniques, the thesis is way beyond the observed 'facts'.

The study involved 30 adults — 15 committed Christians and 15 nonbelievers — who underwent three functional MRI (fMRI) scans while evaluating religious and nonreligious statements as "true" or "false." The statements were designed to produce near perfect agreement between the two groups during nonreligious trials (e.g., "Eagles really exist") and near perfect disagreement during religious trials (e.g., "Angels really exist").

I mean really. What kind of committed Christians? Did they get born being religious or did they pick it up during education? Big difference. You can be a committed Christian and still be an non believer.?

Religious experiences which stem from the 'religion' generator are fundamentally different than those formed by intellectual processes.?

So for it's worth the test may just have tested 30 random persons who weren't religious at all, but where 15 were socially imprinted with religion.

"Despite vast differences in the underlying processing responsible for religious and nonreligious modes of thought," the authors write, "the distinction between believing and disbelieving a proposition appears to transcend content.?/i>

I'll translate that in layman's ter

/i>

"We haven't got a clue what modes of thought we have actually measured since we don't know the baseline of the thought processes involved", the authors write, "but apparently believing a fact is different from believing a proposition"?

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lamminium
Don't get irked Lam. Bad for the heart. Credentials mean squat as many scientific blunders have adequately proven.

Climategate has shown clearly how proper credentials are nothing but perception. Arguments founded on empirical science are valid no matter how forwards them.

I knew you'd bring up climategate. So let me make it clear: scientific blunders are individual doings. They choose to tarnish their own reputations. One more extrapolation you just made: one's wrongdoing implies the whole community is undervalued.?

Credentials are the first criterion for presenting a scientific case. Heck, I can try to publish my own paper but with my status, no one would weigh my arguments seriously unless I have extensive research experience. Experience is what makes research so competitive and highly regarded. With years of exposure, you develop skills and tricks "tricks" as in excellent ways to deal with problems such as those with laboratory techniques - I myself devised a few "tricks" in lab work and data analysis while doing my research project. That's why in one of the climategate emails, the word "tricks" was taken literally out of context>) and reduce errors in both practical procedures and interpretations. Experience in experimental techniques as well as in critically reviewing literature, hence possessing a large body of knowledge in the field, is what constitutes credentials. Hope we're clear on this one.

For what the OP concerns.

It's faulty. The method is faulty, the observations are based on wobbly uncertain imaging techniques, the thesis is way beyond the observed 'facts'.

The study involved 30 adults — 15 committed Christians and 15 nonbelievers — who underwent three functional MRI (fMRI) scans while evaluating religious and nonreligious statements as "true" or "false." The statements were designed to produce near perfect agreement between the two groups during nonreligious trials (e.g., "Eagles really exist") and near perfect disagreement during religious trials (e.g., "Angels really exist").>

I mean really. What kind of committed Christians? Did they get born being religious or did they pick it up during education? Big difference. You can be a committed Christian and still be an non believer.

Again, if you were OK with EEG, stop saying fMRI is wobbly because it is a better technique than EEG. Consistency matters.

Subject selection is the third critical stage (after concocting a rationale for a new study and experimental process). You really think they just rounded up random people in the church? Pre-lab contacts, exchange and so forth determine if a subject is suitable.

Religious experiences which stem from the 'religion' generator are fundamentally different than those formed by intellectual processes.

Proof?

So for it's worth the test may just have tested 30 random persons who weren't religious at all, but where 15 were socially imprinted with religion.

"Despite vast differences in the underlying processing responsible for religious and nonreligious modes of thought," the authors write, "the distinction between believing and disbelieving a proposition appears to transcend content.?i>

I'll translate that in layman's term

i>

"We haven't got a clue what modes of thought we have actually measured since we don't know the baseline of the thought processes involved", the authors write, "but apparently believing a fact is different from believing a proposition"?

Or worded in a more sensible way:

Even though religious and nonreligious modes of thought are different, the distinction is not content-dependent ("transcend content").

Meaning: that semantic exposure does not appear to regulate religiosity.?

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petrossa
Credentials are the first criterion for presenting a scientific case.?

Let me see, Einstein was what exactly when he wrote his mind blowing, world altering theory? I guess would he have presented it nowadays nobody would pay attention because he lacked 'credentials'.

Again, if you were OK with EEG, stop saying fMRI is wobbly because it is a better technique than EEG. Consistency matters.

Sorry i don' follow you there. EEG is very straightforward. FMRI is the result of a vastly complex computer software data analysis. It has so holes for errors to creep in i wouldn't know where to begin. And i DO know something about software. Very wobbly stuff.

Subject selection is the third critical stage (after concocting a rationale for a new study and experimental process). You really think they just rounded up random people in the church? Pre-lab contacts, exchange and so forth determine if a subject is suitable.

Again, since there's NO way of determining which part of the persons belief is intellectualized and which isn't no amount of preselection can do anything else than introducing research bias.

Proof?

I thought we'd been there already?

Or worded in a more sensible way:

Even though religious and nonreligious modes of thought are different, the distinction is not content-dependent ("transcend content").

Meaning: that semantic exposure does not appear to regulate religiosity.?So in conclusion: It was a hollow phrase without meaning. Glad be we got that sorted?[/colo:p :p

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lamminium
Let me see, Einstein was what exactly when he wrote his mind blowing, world altering theory? I guess would he have presented it nowadays nobody would pay attention because he lacked 'credentials'.

Yup. What do you think I'd say??

Ideas need to be tested before they are widely accepted but also, it is inappropriate to reject a plausible suggestion on the word "go" without hard evidence.?

With Einstein, history showed us that Einstein's proposal confounded commonsense (hence, the strong reaction from the physics and engineering communities) but after multiple rounds of experimental verifications, it became one of the best things we ever had. Should the community be so hardline, his theories would have never survived to this date!

Thus, credentials are a important factor in ensuring that everything that enters the mainstream knowledge is vigorously tested.?

Another example: I chose to sit on the fence in anthropogenic climate change (but not climate change itself) issue because I observed conflicting reports from experts in climatology (not random news reporters and bloggers). That unsettled me greatly even though my uni's position was pro-AGW. Credentials matter, no matter how you look at it.

Sorry i don' follow you there. EEG is very straightforward. FMRI is the result of a vastly complex computer software data analysis. It has so holes for errors to creep in i wouldn't know where to begin. And i DO know something about software. Very wobbly stuff.

Presumably, you have read about the advantages and disadvantages of both techniques. You may want to go back to those sources. Accepting one but not the other is weird.

Again, since there's NO way of determining which part of the persons belief is intellectualized and which isn't no amount of preselection can do anything else than introducing research bias.

See the "further implication" at the end of this post.

I thought we'd been there already?
Not really? I only recall your abstraction about the matter but nothing definitive from the literature.?

Quote of interest is: "Religious experiences which stem from the 'religion' generator are fundamentally different than those formed by intellectual processes."

So in conclusion: It was a hollow phrase without meaning. Glad be we got that sorted
How is it hollow? lol

OK, please don't pull the "English isn't your first language" cop-out again: ?

Even though religious and nonreligious modes of thought are different, the distinction is not content-dependent ("transcend content").

Meaning: that semantic exposure does not appear to regulate religiosity.

Further implication: details related to religious practices do not appear to be determinants of religious mode. This is interesting because it suggests there is an innate factor that results in religiosity, rather than intellectual decree following examination of faith-based content.

Instead of saying it's hollow, think of it as: something new in the details that has not been observed previously. In resea"new" is a sensation and the driving force of developmentt. Whether this result can be replicated, further studied and advance the psychology of religion is anyone's guess. At minimum, what we see in the OP is that it was done and indicated something rather unexpected.

Welcome to science?

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petrossa
Thus, credentials are a important factor in ensuring that everything that enters the mainstream knowledge is vigorously tested.?

As a theory it is valid, as a field tested truth its not. Empirical observation trumps theory anytime.?

Remember our discussion on the Fat is bad theme. I clearly demonstrated that accepted peer reviewed science that fat is bad and a causative risk factor fro health was false.

Presumably, you have read about the advantages and disadvantages of both techniques. You may want to go back to those sources. Accepting one but not the other is weird.

No it's not weird. EEG is a very coarse analog measurement of brain activity. What you see is what you get.

FMRI is a very sophisticated abstract mathematical model representing with a good margin of doubt the oxygenation of the brain. It also assumes blandly that more oxygenation equals more activity regarding the phenomenon you are studying. Which may or may not be the case.?

Not really? I only recall your abstraction about the matter but nothing definitive from the literature.?

Yeah, like i'm going to dump a 1000 links to articles on the matter. ?Since i at minimum shown a correlation between religiosity and a defined are of the brain exists its way beyond the scope of this discussion to 'prove' it.

I posed a known fact, founded it with enough venue for your own confirmation. If you say it's not true its up to you to disprove it.

Quote of interest is: "Religious experiences which stem from the 'religion' generator are fundamentally different than those formed by intellectual processes."

Let me put that in other words:

http://www.neowin.net/forum/index.php?automodule=blog&blogid=316&showentry=3080

Instead of saying it's hollow, think of it as: something new in the details that has not been observed previously. In resea"new" is a sensation and the driving force of developmentt. Whether this result can be replicated, further studied and advance the psychology of religion is anyone's guess. At minimum, what we see in the OP is that it was done and indicated something rather unexpected.

It says completely nothing Lam. The guy puts 30 persons in a lab, poses some inane questions which to his mind consist of religious/non religious content (angels, come on. I first thought it was a joke when ?i read it)

makes colorized images cleaned from a data analysis on oxygenation of the brain and comes up with:

I've seen something, don't know what, but since i asked questions which i think are relevant to religion it must be something which has to do with belief systems.

This is exactly the kind of science which makes me believe the often heard complaint that the level of education gets dumbed down to accommodate for the less intelligent.

The 60's thinking that everyone must have a proper chance at education, so to open up education we lower the standards.

This film is meant as a satire, but its more true than is comfortable:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0387808/quotes

Pvt. Joe Bowers: [addressing Congress] There was a time when reading wasn't just for fags. And neither was writing. People wrote books and movies. Movies with stories, that made you care about whose ass it was and why it was farting. And I believe that time can come again!

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