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Atheism and Alzheimer's disease

5,330 bytes added, 12 March
/* Nun study and Alzheimer's disease */
The abstract for the 2003 journal article ''Healthy aging and dementia: findings from the Nun Study'' published in the ''Annals of Internal Medicine'' states:
{{Cquote|The Nun Study is a longitudinal study of 678 Catholic sisters 75 to 107 years of age who are members of the School Sisters of Notre Dame congregation. Data collected for this study include early and middle-life risk factors from the convent archives, annual cognitive and physical function evaluations during old age, and postmortem neuropathologic evaluations of the participants' brains. The case histories presented include a centenarian who was a model of healthy aging, a 92-year-old with dementia and clinically significant Alzheimer disease neuropathology and vascular lesions, a cognitively and physically intact centenarian with almost no neuropathology, and an 85-year-old with well-preserved cognitive and physical function despite a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer disease and an abundance of Alzheimer disease lesions. These case histories provide examples of how healthy aging and dementia relate to the degree of pathology present in the brain and the level of resistance to the clinical expression of the neuropathology.<ref>[ ''Healthy aging and dementia: findings from the Nun Study'], Snowdon DA, ''Annals of Internal Medicine'' 2003 Sep 2;139(5 Pt 2):450-4.</ref>}}
==== Regular prayer/meditation and larger frontal lobes ====
''See also:'' [[Religiosity and larger frontal lobes]] and [[Atheism and the brain]] and
[[Atheism and the brain#Religious individuals and thicker cerebral cortices|Religious individuals and thicker cerebral cortices]]
[[File:Cerebrum lobes.svg.png|thumbnail|300px|Graphic of cerebral lobes. Light brown section of the graphic depicts the area of the frontal lobe. (Click on graphic to enlarge)]]
According to ''Scientific American'':
{{cquote|Several studies have revealed that people who practice meditation or have prayed for many years exhibit increased activity and have more brain tissue in their [[frontal lobe]]s, regions associated with attention and reward, as compared with people who do not meditate or pray.<ref>[ Ask the Brains, Scientific American, Dec 23, 2011]</ref>}}
The Centre for Neuro Skills say about the frontal lobes and their function:
{{cquote|The frontal lobes are considered our emotional control center and home to our personality. There is no other part of the brain where lesions can cause such a wide variety of symptoms (Kolb & Wishaw, 1990). The frontal lobes are involved in motor function, problem solving, spontaneity, memory, language, initiation, judgement, impulse control, and social and sexual behavior. The frontal lobes are extremely vulnerable to injury due to their location at the front of the cranium, proximity to the sphenoid wing and their large size. MRI studies have shown that the frontal area is the most common region of injury following mild to moderate traumatic brain injury (Levin et al., 1987).
There are important asymmetrical differences in the frontal lobes. The left frontal lobe is involved in controlling language related movement, whereas the right frontal lobe plays a role in non-verbal abilities. Some researchers emphasize that this rule is not absolute and that with many people, both lobes are involved in nearly all behavior.<ref>[ Frontal lobes], The Centre for Neuro Skills</ref>}} declares about the frontal lobe:
{{cquote|The frontal lobe is the part of the brain that controls important cognitive skills in humans, such as emotional expression, problem solving, memory, language, judgment, and sexual behavior. It is, in essence, the “control panel” of our personality and our ability to communicate.
It is also responsible for primary motor function, or our ability to consciously move our muscles, and the two key areas related to speech, including Broca’s area.
The frontal lobe is larger and more developed in humans than in any other organism.<ref>[ Frontal lobe],</ref>}}
The health writer Molly McAdams writes about the function of the frontal lobes:
{{cquote|Higher-level thinking is supported by the frontal lobes. Activity in these lobes allows us to reason, make judgments, make plans for the near and far future, make choices, take action, solve problems and generally control our living environment. Without fully functioning frontal lobes, you may have intelligence, but you wouldn’t be able to put it to use.<ref>[What Are the Functions of Frontal Lobe of Brain?] by Molly McAdams</ref>}}
==== Reluctance of Western atheists to engage in meditation ====
[[File:Greta Christina at Skepticon.jpg|thumbnail|left|200px|Atheist [[Greta Christina]] wrote: "A lot of atheists, [[Secular humanism|humanists]], and other nonbelievers are leery or dismissive of meditation and mindfulness."<ref>[ Mind is Matter], Greta Christina, The</ref>]]
The [[atheism|atheist]] [[Greta Christina]] wrote at the website
{{cquote|A lot of atheists, [[Secular humanism|humanists]], and other nonbelievers are leery or dismissive of meditation and mindfulness. Some see it as an irretrievably religious or spiritual practice, and want no part in it. Others are put off by the faddish, overused, buzzword quality of the practice and the terminology. And I can understand that. For years, I stayed away from trying this stuff out, for exactly those reasons. I was interested in the practice—I had friends who did it, and who seemed to get a lot out of it. But I couldn’t find anyplace to learn that didn’t base their teaching on [[Buddhism]] or some other religion. And I’m too ardent an anti-religionist to “take what you need and leave the rest,” the way many nonbelievers do with religion. After all, I literally wrote the book on [[Atheism and anger|angry atheism]]. For me, trying to learn meditation in a Buddhist center would be like trying to learn meditation in a room full of fingernails scraping on blackboards.<ref>[ Mind is Matter], Greta Christina, The</ref>}}
Although many atheists in the [[Western World]] are reluctant to meditate, in the East nontheist Buddhists often practice meditation.<ref>''Christians Talk about Buddhist Meditation, Buddhists Talk About Christian Prayer'', edited by Rita M. Gross, Terry C. Muck, page 89</ref>
=== Atheism vs. theism, purpose in life and rate of Alzheimer's disease ===