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Belief In God And Perception Of Immigrants Can Be Altered With Magnetic Energy Claim Scientists

14/10/2015 11:04 | Updated 14 October 2015

Society's key belief systems including those centred around religion, can be altered using magnetic energy scientists have claimed in a new study.

Perception towards God, heaven and hell as well as attitudes towards immigrants changed after researchers applied magnetic energy to study participants.

Researchers found that participants became 28.5 percent less negative towards immigrants who criticised their countries as well as showing a decreased belief in God after being subjected to a process known as Transcranial Magnetic Simulation (TMS).

However, the findings published in the Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience journal are based on a study of 38 people.

Scientists who lead the study applied a magnetic field to certain regions in the posterior medial frontal cortex of the brain to see how perceptions would change if neurons in these regions were shut down.

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Following TMS, each participant (all undergraduates) was given a series of tasks including writing a brief on their own death as well as reading two essays written by immigrants.

One of the study's authors Dr Keise Izuma, from the University of York, said: "People often turn to ideology when they are confronted by problems.

"We wanted to find out whether a brain region that is linked with solving concrete problems, like deciding how to move one's body to overcome an obstacle, is also involved in solving abstract problems addressed by ideology."

"As expected, we found that when we experimentally turned down the posterior medial frontal cortex, people were less inclined to reach for comforting religious ideas despite having been reminded of death," he added.

His colleague Holbrook suggested that we use the same regions of the brain to process abstract and and concreted notions.

"These findings are very striking, and consistent with the idea that brain mechanisms that evolved for relatively basic threat-response functions are re-purposed to also produce ideological reactions," Holbrook told the Press Association.

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