I'm realizing that I have a sufficient number of notes from this area in my queue that I'm not going to get to them separately. So, here I pass on first some links to recent publications and then some work on neural correlates of religious belief.
First, three publications:
"How God changes your brain"Next,
"Contemplative Science: Where Buddhism and Neuroscience Converge"
A conference on Neuroscience and spiritual practices
Kapogiannis and collaborators attempt to model the complexity of religious belief and then provide brain imaging data correlate their categories with well known brain networks:
We propose an integrative cognitive neuroscience framework for understanding the cognitive and neural foundations of religious belief. Our analysis reveals 3 principle psychological dimensions of religious belief (God's perceived level of involvement, God's perceived emotion, and doctrinal/experiential religious knowledge), which functional MRI localizes within networks processing Theory of Mind regarding intent and emotion, abstract semantics, and imagery. Our results are unique in demonstrating that specific components of religious belief are mediated by well-known brain networks, and support contemporary psychological theories that ground religious belief within evolutionary adaptive cognitive functions.In a less ambitious effort, Inzlicht et al. suggest that religious people are more chilled out when they commit errors, reflected by reduced reactivity of their anterior cingulate cortex:
Many people derive peace of mind and purpose in life from their belief in God. For others, however, religion provides unsatisfying answers. Are there brain differences between believers and nonbelievers? Here we show that religious conviction is marked by reduced reactivity in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), a cortical system that is involved in the experience of anxiety and is important for self-regulation. In two studies, we recorded electroencephalographic neural reactivity in the ACC as participants completed a Stroop task. Results showed that stronger religious zeal and greater belief in God were associated with less firing of the ACC in response to error and with commission of fewer errors. These correlations remained strong even after we controlled for personality and cognitive ability. These results suggest that religious conviction provides a framework for understanding and acting within one's environment, thereby acting as a buffer against anxiety and minimizing the experience of error.