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Challenges Facing the Neurological Study of Religious Behavior, Belief, and Experience

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image of Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

The neurological study of religious behavior, belief, and experience faces many challenges related to research conception, experimental design, and interpretation of results. Some of these problems are common to other types of neurological study of behavioral and cognitive phenomena. Others are distinctive to the specifically religious domain of behavior, belief, and experience. This paper discusses eight of these problems and three key strategic principles for mitigating them. It then proposes an eight-step framework for research into the neurology of religious behavior, belief, and experience that implements the three strategic principles and addresses all eight of the problems.

Affiliations: 1: Boston University, School of Theology, 745 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215;, Email:; 2: Department of Neurology (127), Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, and VA Boston Healthcare System, 150 South Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA;, Email:


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