Sunday, December 4, 2011

Religious Experience and Brain Scanning

Principles Of Neurotheology
By Dr. Andrew Newberg
In the movie, Religulous, Dr. Andrew Newberg was interviewed on his work in Neurotheology.  He studies show how religious experiences and practices impact the brain by doing brain scans of various religious people.  Gone are the days that we have to guess about what happens in a person when we can see it first hand through a brain scan.  This field of study is called neurotheology detailed in a book called "Principles of Neurotheology".

While people are in a very deep spiritual or religious state, these researchers do brain scans.   Some of the people they have studied include a Buddhist meditating, Sikhs chanting, and nuns praying.  They compare these brain scans to that of the person at a state of rest and observe the difference.   This research has given them a big opportunity to really see what happens within the mind and body when someone is taking part in a religious or spiritual practice.

This work has also shown that religious practices have also helped the brain of a person with memory problems.  After doing meditation for 12 minutes a day over eight weeks, they found dramatic improvements in the brain scans.

While neurotheology won't necessarily prove that there is a higher power, it does show that religious and spiritual practices do impact our brain in positive ways.  The brain scans do not necessarily show an existence of a higher power, but they do show that there is an impact from these practices.

I find it interesting that we can now see things like this on images that several years ago we could not see.  There is so much about our brain that we have not discovered yet and we are really at the forefront of that discovery in our present day.  More importantly though, a time of connecting to places deep within our mind and body can greatly help our life as evidenced through this new field of study.

Related Blog Posts:
1)  Giving Away Our Power (Feb 4, 2009)
2)  Brain, Mind And Behavior (Oct 24, 2011)

1) (Dr. Andy Newberg)
2)  Principles Of Neurotheology (Book by Dr. Andrew Newberg
3)  Neurotheology, This Is Your Brain On Religion ( article)
4)  Religulous (Movie by Bill Maher)
5)  Sikhs Religion (

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