A research team from the University of York (UK) and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), carried out an innovative experiment using transcranial magnetic stimulation, a safe way of temporarily shutting down specific regions of the brain.
The researchers targeted the posterior medial frontal cortex, a part of the brain located near the surface and roughly, a few inches up from the forehead that is associated with detecting problems and triggering responses that address them. In the study, half of the participants received a low-level “sham” procedure that did not affect their brains, and half received enough energy to lower activity in the target brain area. Next, all of the participants were first asked to think about death, and then were asked questions about their religious beliefs and their feelings about immigrants.
According to Dr. Keise Izuma, of the Department of Psychology at the University of York, and co-author of the study – identified the aim of the study was to determine whether targeting an area of the brain associated with problem-solving may be related to ideology, given that many individuals turn to ideology when faced with certain dilemmas or threats.