After reading the two secondary sources from thePROMPT activity, I am reflecting on the experimental study of how religious belief affects pain and how theeffects of religious imagery were investigated on two groups of participants;Catholics and non-believers, including atheists and agnostics.

All participantswere given electric shocks whilst studying both religious and non-religiouspaintings. The researchers focused on two areas of the investigation. The first area wasthe mood and perception of pain, it was reported that there was a significancedifference in the ratings of mood across the two groups. When shown the imageof the Virgin Mary, the Catholic volunteers rated a more positive mood and areduced pain perception. Whereas the non-believer group reported a morepositive mood when shown a non-religious image, however they coped with thepain equally well with either image. The second area was the pain-related activity in the brain which was supportedby the MRI scans.

The scans showed that the brain activity in both groups was ‘normal’and that the areas of the brain used for pain processing were activated. It wasreported that there were no differences between either group. Conversely, when shown the religious imagery, theCatholic group had more brain activity in the right ventrolateral prefrontalcortex. It had been hypothesised that this part of the brain controls the influenceof pain. The group of non-believers claimed that the non-religious image was preferred,however this was not supported as there was no increased activity in the rightventrolateral prefrontal cortex.This information was easy to find and understand from the secondary source 2,however I found secondary source 3 to be severely lacking in detail.

Secondarysource 3, “Faith in God eases pain’, was a newspaper article and with noreferences or any information about the author, it lacks credibility andtherefore I found this source to be unhelpful and unreliable. However,secondary source 2 “Religious belief and pain relief”, was clear, informativeand the author had remained neutral in the piece of writing. This meant that I,as the reader, was able to create my own opinion.

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