Neuroscience of Religion and AtheismSemester Course

Neuroscience of Religion and Atheism, Semester Course
Major Discipline(s)
Neuroscience, Psychology, Religious Studies
Elective Course
Fall/Spring semester

The course offers a biological and neuro-cognitive approach to explore and debate what neuroscience, psychology and related fields reveal about the brain’s role in spiritual experiences, religiosity and atheism. You learn how the “religious brain” is studied and how other psychological and biological studies inform cognitive neuroscientific views of religion. We also discuss the public and social impact of the scientific study of religion.

Main topics covered in the course include:

  • An introduction to the multidisciplinary field of neurotheology
  • Key elements of the functional neuroanatomy and neurochemistry of religious and spiritual experience
  • A survey of developmental approaches to religion
  • An introduction to the neuropsychology of meditation, and to the health benefits associated with meditation practices
  • Cognitive hypotheses about the sources of atheism


Maria Serban

DIS Copenhagen Faculty

PhD in Philosophy (University of East Anglia UK 2014) and MA in Philosophy and Cognitive Science (Ecole Normale Superieure de Lyon, France 2010). Postdoctoral research at the Center for Philosophy of Science Pittsburgh (2014), at the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science, LSE London (2015), and at the University of Copenhagen (2016-2018). Research focus on explanation in neuroscience and cognitive psychology, and computational modelling in systems biology and neuroscience. With DIS since 2016.

Psychology, Maria Serban