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Highly religious participants recruit areas of social cognition in personal prayer.

Schjoedt U, Stødkilde-Jørgensen H, Geertz AW, Roepstorff A (2009) Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 4(2):199-207
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We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate how performing formalized and improvised forms of praying changed the evoked BOLD response in a group of Danish Christians. Distinct from formalized praying and secular controls, improvised praying activated a strong response in the temporopolar region, the medial prefrontal cortex, the temporo-parietal junction and precuneus. This finding supports our hypothesis that religious subjects, who consider their God to be 'real' and capable of reciprocating requests, recruit areas of social cognition when they pray. We argue that praying to God is an intersubjective experience comparable to 'normal' interpersonal interaction.
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