TORONTO, March 6 (UPI) -- Canadian researchers found distinct brain differences between believers in God and non-believers.
Even after controlling for personality and cognitive ability, when asked to perform tasks while wearing electrodes, those having faith in God showed significantly less activity than those without belief, in the anterior cingulate cortex of the brain -- a portion of the brain that helps modify behavior by signaling when attention and control are needed, usually as a result of some anxiety-producing event.
"You could think of this part of the brain like a cortical alarm bell that rings when an individual has just made a mistake or experiences uncertainty," lead author Michael Inzlicht of the University of Toronto said in a statement.
"We found that religious people or even people who simply believe in the existence of God show significantly less brain activity in relation to their own errors," Inzlicht said. "They're much less anxious and feel less stressed when they have made an error."
However, anxiety, Inzlicht cautions, may be a "double-edged sword."
Anxiety can be negative if it paralyzes with fear but it can also be useful, he said.
"Anxiety alerts us when we're making mistakes," Inzlicht said. "If you don't experience anxiety when you make an error, what impetus do you have to change or improve your behavior so you don't make the same mistakes again and again?"