Neural Underpinnings of the Human Belief System

Irene Cristofori, Jordan Grafman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Human beings are wired to believe. These beliefs – including moral, legal, political, and religious beliefs – are extremely important because they can define a person’s character and influence decision-making processes. Recent neuroimaging and lesion studies have shown that these beliefs have neural underpinnings in the human brain. This chapter reviews the current research on the human social belief system and its neural correlates. There is no evidence of dedicated brain systems uniquely devoted to a specific kind of human social belief. The studies reviewed in this chapter highlight a core set of regions within the prefrontal cortex, in association with the anterior temporal lobe, reward circuit, and limbic regions, that appear to critically mediate a variety of social belief systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNew Approaches to the Scientific Study of Religion
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media B.V.
Number of pages13
StatePublished - 2017

Publication series

NameNew Approaches to the Scientific Study of Religion
ISSN (Print)2367-3494
ISSN (Electronic)2367-3508


  • Belief System
  • Moral Belief
  • Moral Sentiment
  • Religious Belief
  • Traumatic Brain Injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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