Virtual lesions of the inferior parietal cortex induce fast changes of implicit religiousness/spirituality

Cristiano Crescentini, Salvatore M. Aglioti, Franco Fabbro, Cosimo Urgesi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Religiousness and spirituality (RS) are two ubiquitous aspects of human experience typically considered impervious to scientific investigation. Nevertheless, associations between RS and frontoparietal neural activity have been recently reported. However, much less is known about whether such activity is causally involved in modulating RS or just epiphenomenal to them. Here we combined two-pulse (10Hz) Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) with a novel, ad-hoc developed RS-related, Implicit Association Test (IAT) to investigate whether implicit RS representations, although supposedly rather stable, can be rapidly modified by a virtual lesion of inferior parietal lobe (IPL) and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). A self-esteem (SE) IAT, focused on self-concepts nonrelated to RS representations, was developed as control. A specific increase of RS followed inhibition of IPL demonstrating its causative role in inducing fast plastic changes of religiousness/spirituality. In contrast, DLPFC inhibition had more widespread effects probably reflecting a general role in the acquisition or maintenance of task-rules or in controlling the expression of self-related representations not specific to RS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex
  • IAT
  • Inferior parietal lobe
  • Religiousness-spirituality
  • TMS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Medicine(all)


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