A new research has suggested that keeping faith could open your mind, but it can also cause your brain to shrink at a different rate.
Researchers at Duke University Medical Centre in the US claim to have found an apparent correlation between religious practices and changes in the brains of older adults.
AdvertisementThe research asked 268 people aged 58 to 84 about their faith, spiritual practices and life-changing religious experiences, reports the Age.hanges in the volume of their hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with learning and memory, were tracked using MRI scans over two to eight years.
Protestants who did not identify themselves as born-again were found to have less atrophy in the hippocampus than born-again Protestants, Catholics or those with no religious affiliation.
Frequency of worship was not found to have a bearing on results, while participants who stated they had had a religious experience were found to have more atrophy than those who did not.
Study authors Amy Owen and David Hayward said the changes were not explained by other factors such as age, education and social support.
Dr Owen speculated stress could play a role - citing a higher level of atrophy among people from minority compared to mainstream religions.
The research has been published in the journal Public Library of Science ONE.