The importance of spirituality or religion to a person appears to be associated with the thickness of certain brain regions, according to a study at Columbia University.
For the study, researchers conducted a familial study of 103 adults who were the second or third generation of depressed or non-depressed study subjects. Spiritual or religious importance and church attendance were assessed twice over five years and the cortical thickness of the brain was measured with MRI at the second assessment.
Researchers found that importance of spirituality or religion, but not the frequency of church attendance, was associated with thicker cortices in some regions of the brain. The effects of the importance of spirituality or religion on cortical thickness were also stronger in the group at high familial risk for depression compared to the low-risk group.