Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Spirituality, religion may protect against major depression by thickening brain cortex

Date:
January 16, 2014
Source:
Columbia University, Teachers College
Summary:
A thickening of parts of the brain cortex associated with regular meditation or other spiritual or religious practice could be the reason those activities guard against depression – particularly in people who are predisposed to the disease, according to new research. Researchers studied 130 subjects and found that those who highly valued spirituality showed thicker portions of brain cortices that may protect against depression -- especially in those at high risk for the disease.

A thickening of the brain cortex associated with regular meditation or other spiritual or religious practice could be the reason those activities guard against depression -- particularly in people who are predisposed to the disease, according to new research led by Lisa Miller, professor and director of Clinical Psychology and director of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Related Articles


The study, published online by JAMA Psychiatry, involved 103 adults at either high or low risk of depression, based on family history. The subjects were asked how highly they valued religion or spirituality. Brain MRIs showed thicker cortices in subjects who placed a high importance on religion or spirituality than those who did not. The relatively thicker cortex was found in precisely the same regions of the brain that had otherwise shown thinning in people at high risk for depression.

Although more research is necessary, the results suggest that spirituality or religion may protect against major depression by thickening the brain cortex and counteracting the cortical thinning that would normally occur with major depression. The study, published on Dec. 25, 2013, is the first published investigation on the neuro-correlates of the protective effect of spirituality and religion against depression.

"The new study links this extremely large protective benefit of spirituality or religion to previous studies which identified large expanses of cortical thinning in specific regions of the brain in adult offspring of families at high risk for major depression," Miller said.

Previous studies by Miller and the team published in the American Journal of Psychiatry (2012) showed a 90 percent decrease in major depression in adults who said they highly valued spirituality or religiosity and whose parents suffered from the disease. While regular attendance at church was not necessary, a strong personal importance placed on spirituality or religion was most protective against major depression in people who were at high familial risk.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Columbia University, Teachers College. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lisa Miller, Ravi Bansal, Priya Wickramaratne, Xuejun Hao, Craig E. Tenke, Myrna M. Weissman, Bradley S. Peterson. Neuroanatomical Correlates of Religiosity and Spirituality. JAMA Psychiatry, 2013; 1 DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.3067

Cite This Page:

Columbia University, Teachers College. "Spirituality, religion may protect against major depression by thickening brain cortex." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140116084846.htm>.
Columbia University, Teachers College. (2014, January 16). Spirituality, religion may protect against major depression by thickening brain cortex. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140116084846.htm
Columbia University, Teachers College. "Spirituality, religion may protect against major depression by thickening brain cortex." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140116084846.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Signs You Might Be The Passive Aggressive Friend

Signs You Might Be The Passive Aggressive Friend

BuzzFeed (Jan. 28, 2015) "No, I&apos;m not mad. Why, are you mad?" Video provided by BuzzFeed
Powered by NewsLook.com
City Divided: A Look at Model Schools in the TDSB

City Divided: A Look at Model Schools in the TDSB

The Toronto Star (Jan. 27, 2015) Model schools are rethinking how they engage with the community to help enhance the lives of the students and their parents. Video provided by The Toronto Star
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Saves Pennies For 65 Years

Man Saves Pennies For 65 Years

Rooftop Comedy (Jan. 26, 2015) A man in Texas saved every penny he found for 65 years, and this week he finally cashed them in. Bank tellers at Prosperity Bank in Slaton, Texas were shocked when Ira Keys arrived at their bank with over 500 pounds of loose pennies stored in coffee cans. After more than an hour of sorting and counting, it turned out the 81 year-old was in possession of 81,600 pennies, or $816. And he&apos;s got more at home! Video provided by Rooftop Comedy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

Newsy (Jan. 25, 2015) More schools are using online classes to keep from losing time to snow days, but it only works if students have Internet access at home. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins