Past studies on the brain’s role in spirituality have largely used functional MRI scans — showing that certain brain areas “light up” when people envision a previous spiritual experience, for instance. Ferguson’s team used that information to link patients’ brain lesion locations to specific brain circuitry.
How does spirituality change the brain?
- These findings tell us that spiritual experiences shift perception, and can moderate the effects of stress on mental health. This study saw decreased activation in the parts of the brain responsible for stress and increased activity in the parts of the brain responsible for connection with others.
- 1 What is the relationship between the brain and spirituality?
- 2 What part of the brain is responsible for spirituality?
- 3 What part of the brain is responsible for religion?
- 4 Is there a God Part of the brain?
- 5 How has God changed the brain?
- 6 What believing in God does to your brain?
- 7 Are atheist brains different?
- 8 What happens to the brain during worship?
- 9 What happens to the brain during enlightenment?
- 10 Is the brain hardwired for religion?
- 11 Is praying good for the brain?
- 12 Is there a God gene?
- 13 Why did God give us a brain?
- 14 When did humans start believing in God?
- 15 How does religion affect the brain?
- 16 How Does Spirituality Change the Brain?
- 17 What Happens to the Brain During Spiritual Experiences?
- 18 Neurotheology : Is Your Brain Really Spiritual?
- 19 Scientists found the spiritual part of our brains—religion not required
- 20 Brain circuit for spirituality?
- 21 Spirituality is a brain state we can all reach, religious or not
What is the relationship between the brain and spirituality?
These findings tell us that spiritual experiences shift perception, and can moderate the effects of stress on mental health. This study saw decreased activation in the parts of the brain responsible for stress and increased activity in the parts of the brain responsible for connection with others.
What part of the brain is responsible for spirituality?
The portion of the brain that processes spiritual experiences is the “parietal cortex” or the “left inferior parietal lobule” to be specific. This part of the brain is also activated whenever an individual becomes aware of himself or others. It is also stimulated when a person uses his or her attention skills.
What part of the brain is responsible for religion?
The study found that several areas of the brain are involved in religious belief, one within the frontal lobes of the cortex – which are unique to humans – and another in the more evolutionary-ancient regions deeper inside the brain, which humans share with apes and other primates, Professor Grafman said.
Is there a God Part of the brain?
Scientists have speculated that the human brain features a “God spot,” one distinct area of the brain responsible for spirituality. Based on a previously published study that indicated spiritual transcendence is associated with decreased right parietal lobe functioning, MU researchers replicated their findings.
How has God changed the brain?
Intense, long-term contemplation of God and other spiritual values appears to permanently change the structure of those parts of the brain that control our moods, give rise to our conscious notions of self, and shape our sensory perceptions of the world.
What believing in God does to your brain?
Believing in God can trigger the same reward regions of the brain as taking drugs. Religious and spiritual experiences are neurologically similar to the euphoria of love and of drug-taking, a team of neuroscientists has concluded.
Are atheist brains different?
New research says religious and non-religious minds work differently. While scans showed the amount of brain activity does not vary between religious and non-religions subjects, they detected notable differences in the way those brain regions communicate.
What happens to the brain during worship?
And Your Reality Scans show that people who spend untold hours in prayer or meditation go dark in the parietal lobe, the brain area that helps create a sense of self. A researcher says these people may be rewriting the neural connections in their brains — altering how they see the world.
What happens to the brain during enlightenment?
When people experience Enlightenment, they frequently report losing their sense of self, and scientific analysis confirms that brain activity is a driving cause of this sensation.
Is the brain hardwired for religion?
The work of Bruce Hood, a professor at Bristol University, suggests that magical and supernatural beliefs are hardwired into our brains from birth, and that religions are therefore tapping into a powerful psychological force. But almost everyone entertains some form of irrational beliefs even if they are not religious.
Is praying good for the brain?
First, engaging in 12 minutes of personal reflection and prayer each day makes a profound impact on our brain. It strengthens a unique neural circuit that specifically enhances our social awareness and empathy and helps us love our neighbor by developing a heightened sense of compassion and subduing negative emotions.
Is there a God gene?
The God gene hypothesis proposes that human spirituality is influenced by heredity and that a specific gene, called vesicular monoamine transporter 2 (VMAT2), predisposes humans towards spiritual or mystic experiences.
Why did God give us a brain?
“We have to take precautions; God wants us to love others. God gave us a brain so that we don’t act stupid. So, we wear our mask, and not just to protect ourselves but to protect others because we love them,” Dane said.
When did humans start believing in God?
Prehistoric evidence of religion. The exact time when humans first became religious remains unknown, however research in evolutionary archaeology shows credible evidence of religious-cum-ritualistic behavior from around the Middle Paleolithic era ( 45-200 thousand years ago ).
How does religion affect the brain?
A recent study that Medical News Today reported on found that religion activates the same reward-processing brain circuits as sex, drugs, and other addictive activities. Share on Pinterest Devoutly religious participants showed increased activity in the brain’s nucleus accumbens.
How Does Spirituality Change the Brain?
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- This is the inferior parietal lobe (IPL), a portion of the brain that is concerned with perceptual processing and is related with the idea of one’s own location in time and space. It is the thalamus and the striatum, two areas of the brain that are connected with emotional and sensory processing.
This work contributes to a growing corpus of research on spirituality and its relationship to brain functioning, which is now underway. These findings suggest that spiritual experiences might alter perception and can even help to mitigate the negative consequences of stress on one’s mental health. According to the findings of this study, decreased activation in the areas of the brain responsible for stress was observed, while increased activation in the portions of the brain responsible for social interaction was observed.
Taking a Look Toward the Future Marc Potenza, MD, PhD, is a specialist in psychiatry and behavioral addictions, and his work at Yale University in this essential subject is a welcome contribution to the growing number of researchers in this field.
- In a crucial aspect of the study, people were scanned while recalling their personal, unique spiritual experience, yet the results were consistent across subjects.
- This promotes treatment and recovery programs to urge patients to engage in a variety of spiritual activities as part of their recovery.
- People in recovery can be empowered by knowing what parts of the brain are modified throughout a person’s spiritual practice.
- Increasing Spirituality in America, by G. Smith and P. Van Capellen, published on March 7, 2018. Obtainable fromM., Gecewicz, C., and others (2017, September 6). More and more people in the United States are describing themselves as spiritual but not religious. This information was obtained from
What Happens to the Brain During Spiritual Experiences?
According to neurologist Dr. Andrew Newberg’s recent book, The Metaphysical Mind: Probing the Biology of Philosophical Thought, “everyone philosophizes.” The meaning of everything is something we all speculate about, from everyday issues such as how to deal with a coworker to our ultimate ideas about the purpose of our life. There is a variety of gratified sentiments that accompany the answers we discover to these difficulties, ranging from “ah-ha” or “light-bulb” moments when we solve an ordinary difficulty to ecstatic sensations when we have mystical experiences.
By focusing on the big concerns, we have already discovered several practical applications for boosting both mental and physical health.
Because meditation is a spiritual activity that is reasonably straightforward to monitor, he began his field research in the 1990s by scanning what happens in people’s brains while they meditate.
With regard to their brain activity, Newberg states that “it varies depending on the type of practice they are involved with.” Practices that entail repeatedly focusing on something, such as prayer or a mantra-based meditation, have been shown to engage the frontal lobes, which are the parts of the brain that are involved for directing attention, modifying behavior, and expressing language.
- Andrew Newberg is a contributing writer for The Atlantic.
- In these cases, activity in their frontal lobes decreases while activity in their thalamus increases, a small brain structure that regulates how sensory information is transmitted to various parts of the brain.
- Believers would argue that this demonstrates that another entity is communicating through the practitioner, while nonbelievers might suggest that it is the result of a neurological malfunction.
“A devout religious person who refuses to accept science as providing any value regarding knowledge of the world, or an ardent atheist, who refuses to accept any aspect of religion as possibly correct or useful, would most likely not be considered a neurotheologian,” he writes in his book, Principles of Neurotheology.
- In the event that one practice does not work for a particular individual, she should attempt another.
- He goes on to say that researchers at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, where he serves as head of research at the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine, have shown that meditation can help those with memory and attention problems.
- In his book, The God Gene: How Faith is Hardwired into Our Genes, Dr.
- In a lecture delivered at Marlboro College titled “Gays, God, and Genes,” Hamer equates the impacts of genetic diversity to an increased ability to experience natural highs, which he believes is a result of the variance.
- Scientists, according to him, will never be able to completely replace spirituality since the dependence on facts will never have the same emotional appeal.
- He does, however, state that experts are currently examining if religious views in general are associated with individuals being healthier and happier.
- If the sensations of bliss that a person feels during a meditation practice are not able to be absorbed into their prior belief system, these feelings may become troubling for the individual.
- In Newberg’s opinion, when meditation techniques are used to reinforce a strict, authoritarian belief system, it can lead to more intolerance and violence toward individuals who have alternative ideas.
Waldman argues in Why We Believe What We Believe, a book he co-authored with Mark Robert Waldman, that because of some overlap between spiritual beliefs and mental illnesses, patients with obsessive compulsive disorders are more likely than the general population to develop rigid religious beliefs.
- Eugene d’Aquili, a psychiatrist who specialized in the study of religion, that he realized he could combine his medical ambitions with his interest in searching for answers to metaphysical questions.
- What interests him about mystical experiences, which are the objective of many meditation techniques, is the accounts of people having an encounter with a higher reality that is “more real” than their ordinary impressions of the world.
- “I believe they reveal something about the nature of reality as well as our perception of that reality.” Nuns and Buddhists who had mystical experiences described emotions of timelessness, spacelessness, and self-transcendence, according to Newberg’s brain scans of their subjects.
- Since of the lowered activity, a meditator may have a sense of oneness with all living things or a sense of unity with all things because the apparent boundaries between the meditator and other objects are blurred.
- In one case from the book Why We Believe What We Believe, patients believe that one of their own legs is not their own, and they have been seen trying to toss the other leg out of their own bed.
- Brick Johnstone, who discovered that injury to the right parietal lobe increased patients’ perceptions of self-transcendent transcendence to grow.
- Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) imaging are two of the techniques Newburg employs to get his images.
- Sally Satel and Scott Lilienfeld, authors of the paper, point out that a shortcoming of brain imaging is that researchers cannot create a clean map of the brain areas associated with different occupations, as phrenologists formerly could.
- Due to the fact that the brain is malleable, if the region responsible for speech is injured, other parts of the brain may rearrange and take over the role.
- As an illustration, the authors provide a straightforward arithmetic issue.
- It is more difficult for neuroscientists to grasp attitudes and emotions when they are seeking to understand them through more intricate stages.
She responded by e-mail, saying that while modern imaging is enabling researchers to make clinical inroads into dementia and other major mental illnesses, she is skeptical that knowing a person’s neurochemical and other physical processes will ever provide a detailed understanding of a person’s subjective beliefs.
“Even with technological advancements, we are unable to forecast the real-world situations in which perceptions, cognitions, or emotions would present themselves.” Knowledge behavioral outcomes requires an understanding of how these variables interact with the environment.
While this represents a significant improvement over nothing, it is still far from ideal in comparison to what we would like.” Additionally, in order to gain a better understanding of what is happening to them physically, Newberg and his team interview meditators about their subjective experiences in order to supplement the scans.
Newberg has discovered that, even among people who belong to the same religion, everyone has a slightly different definition of God.
As a result of the technological challenges as well as the diversity of religious, philosophical, and other practices, I inquired as to whether Newberg ever feels overwhelmed.
I try very hard not to go too far ahead of myself or too far ahead of the data, and I try very hard not to get too far ahead of myself or too far ahead of the data “he explained.
“Nonetheless, I believe this is somewhat of a calling for me. I’ve always felt compelled to pursue this path, and I intend to continue down it in the hope that one day I’ll discover something that will be extremely beneficial to everyone.”
Neurotheology : Is Your Brain Really Spiritual?
According to neurologist Dr. Andrew Newberg’s most recent book, The Metaphysical Mind: Probing the Biology of Philosophical Thought, “everyone philosophizes.” From everyday concerns such as how to deal with a coworker to our ultimate beliefs regarding the purpose of existence, we all speculate about the meaning of various things. There is a range of satisfied feelings that accompany the solutions we discover to these problems, ranging from “ah-ha” or “light-bulb” moments when solving an everyday problem to ecstatic feelings during mystical experiences.
- A more in-depth examination of the larger issues has already yielded practical applications for improving mental and physical health.
- Because meditation is a spiritual practice that is relatively easy to monitor, he began his fieldwork in the 1990s by scanning what happens in people’s brains while they meditated.
- According to Newberg, “It depends to some extent on what the practice is” in terms of what is happening in their heads.
- Doctor Andrew Newberg contributed to this article.
- The thalamus is a small brain structure that regulates the flow of incoming sensory information to many different areas of the brain.
- Doctor Andrew Newberg contributed to this article.
- As a result, Newberg considers both viewpoints.
A meditation practice, according to Newberg, may be beneficial for everyone at any age.
Generally speaking, these behaviors are associated with decreased levels of despair, anxiety, and tension.
The effectiveness of these activities when they are based on religious or spiritual beliefs is up for debate.
Dean Hamer explains how he discovered that study subjects who had a certain mutation of a certain gene were more sensitive to self-transcendent spiritual experiences.
It is his belief that science will never be able to completely replace spirituality since it will never have the same emotional appeal as spirituality itself.
The question of whether religious beliefs in general lead to people being healthier and happier is still under investigation, according to him.
It is possible that the bliss that a person experiences during a meditation practice will become unpleasant if it cannot be absorbed into their prior belief system.
The practice of meditation may strengthen a rigid, authoritarian belief system, says Newberg, which can result in more intolerance and aggression toward others who have different ideas.
In his childhood, Newberg dreamed of becoming a medical doctor, but it wasn’t until he attended medical school at the University of Pennsylvania and began working with Dr.
A comparison of Eastern and Western philosophers has been carried out in order to better comprehend their divergent opinions on whether or not an objective reality exists outside of human experience.
Newberg describes it as “the only description that I’ve ever seen where someone will say ‘I got beyond my brain, I got beyond my ego self, I got beyond the subjective and objective nature of the world;’ and then they see the universe, and they experience the universe in a very, very different kind of way.” “It’s the only description that I’ve ever seen where somebody will say ‘I got beyond my brain, I got beyond my ego self, I got beyond the subjective and objective nature “These experiences, I believe, must be taken very seriously,” he continued, before adding, The essence of reality and our perception of reality, I believe, may be gleaned from these images.” Nuns and Buddhists who had mystical experiences described emotions of timelessness, spacelessness, and self-transcendence, according to Newberg’s brain scans of the subjects’ brains As a result of the diminished activity in their parietal lobes, which is responsible for detecting three-dimensional things in space, Newberg believes this is a contributing factor to their sensations of disorientation.
- Since of the lowered activity, a meditator may have a sense of oneness with all living things or a sense of unity with all things because the apparent boundaries between the meditator and other objects become more blurred.
- For example, according to Why We Believe What We Believe, patients have been seen attempting to toss one of their own legs out of their bed because they believe it belongs to someone else.
- Brick Johnstone, who discovered that injury to the right parietal lobe increased patients’ perceptions of self-transcendent transcendence to grow.
- Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) imaging are two of the techniques Newburg used to obtain his scan results.
- Sally Satel and Scott Lilienfeld, who wrote the paper, point out that a shortcoming of brain imaging is that researchers cannot create a precise map of the brain areas associated with different occupations, as phrenologists formerly could.
- If a lesion occurs to the normal part of the brain responsible for speech, other areas of the brain may rearrange and take over the function of speech.
- They present an example of a straightforward algebraic issue.
- More difficult measures must be taken into consideration by neuroscientists when attempting to comprehend attitudes or emotions.
If you send an e-mail to Satel asking for her thoughts on Newberg’s work, she will respond that modern imaging is enabling researchers to make clinical inroads into dementia and other major mental illnesses, but she is skeptical that knowing a person’s neurochemical and other physical processes will ever provide a detailed understanding of someone’s subjective beliefs.
- Knowledge behavioral outcomes requires an understanding of how these variables interact with the environment.
- Finding out exactly what interviewees mean when they use notions such as God or spirituality has proven to be a difficult problem for this technique.
- When people talk about spiritual experiences, some say they strengthen their religious convictions, while others say they make them more disinterested in religion and more interested in personal activities like meditation.
- “A little overwhelming, to say the least.
I’ve always been compelled to pursue this route, and I intend to continue along it in the hope that one day I’ll discover something that will be truly beneficial to all people on this planet.”
According to neurologist Dr. Andrew Newberg in his recent book, The Metaphysical Mind: Probing the Biology of Philosophical Thought, “everyone philosophizes.” We all have our own theories about the significance of many things, ranging from our everyday concerns about interacting with a coworker to our ultimate ideas about the meaning of life. When we discover answers to these difficulties, we experience a variety of gratified sentiments, ranging from “ah-ha” or “light-bulb” moments when we solve a common problem to ecstatic ones when we have mystical experiences.
- A more global perspective has already yielded practical benefits for boosting both mental and physical health.
- Because meditation is a spiritual activity that is reasonably straightforward to observe, he began his fieldwork in the 1990s by scanning what happens in people’s brains while they meditate.
- “It depends to some extent on what the practice is,” Newberg says of what’s going on in their heads.
- When practitioners surrender their will, such as when they speak in tongues or act as a medium, activity in their frontal lobes decreases while activity in their thalamus increases.
- As a result, it is possible that their speech is being created from a location other than the usual speech centers.
- Andrew Newberg is a contributor to The Atlantic.
Newberg considers both points of view.
Newberg feels that everyone may benefit from a regular meditation practice of some sort.
Generally speaking, these behaviors are associated with decreased levels of sadness, anxiety, and stress.
The effectiveness of these techniques when they are based on religious or spiritual beliefs is questionable.
Dean Hamer explains how he discovered that study subjects who had a certain mutation of a certain gene were more sensitive to self-transcendent, spiritual experiences.
According to Hamer, a person’s natural spirituality is also influenced by their surroundings, which can guide them towards certain religious ideas or away from religion entirely.
It is generally agreed upon that heredity and environment have an impact on spiritual views, and that meditation techniques are more successful when they support a practitioner’s belief system.
As a belief system, he views atheism to be valid as well, and believes that belonging to a religious denomination may have benefits for one’s mental health beyond simply the belief system itself.
Newberg used the example of a meditator who went to a church person to talk about his practice and felt a little dismissed by the clergy member.
In Why We Believe What We Believe, a book he co-authored with Mark Robert Waldman, he believes that individuals with obsessive compulsive disorders frequently adopt strict religious ideas as a result of some overlap between spiritual beliefs and psychological diseases.
Eugene d’Aquili, a psychiatrist whose research focused on religion, that he realized he could combine his desire to find answers to metaphysical questions with his desire to be a doctor.
What interests him about mystical experiences, which are the objective of many meditation techniques, are the accounts of people having an encounter with a higher reality that is “more real” than their ordinary impressions of the world around them.
“I believe they reveal something about the nature of reality as well as our perception of reality.” Nuns and Buddhists who had mystical experiences described emotions of timelessness, spacelessness, and self-transcendence, according to Newberg’s brain scans.
Since of the lowered activity, a meditator may have a sense of oneness with all living things or a sense of unity with all things because the apparent boundaries between the meditator and other objects are blurred.
For example, according to Why We Believe What We Believe, patients have been seen attempting to toss one of their own legs out of their bed because they believe it is not their own.
Brick Johnstone, who discovered that injury to the right parietal lobe increased patients’ perceptions of self-transcendent transcendence to rise.
Newburg employs functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) imaging to get his images.
If linguistic expression is mostly processed in a single region of the brain, its processing is heavily dependent on connections to other brain activity.
In addition to identifying the proper brain areas, researchers must dissect the processes involved in an apparently unified mental task in order to better understand it.
Researchers must take into account the fact that one region of the brain allows a person to visually detect the numbers, another portion registers the size of the numbers, and a third section computes the total.
The technology is also not sophisticated enough to detect all of the fast brain changes that occur during a mental activity.
Even with technological advancements, “we are unable to forecast the real-world situations in which senses, cognitions, or emotions will show themselves.” The interplay of these characteristics with the environment is critical to understanding behavioral consequences.” When asked about the technological difficulties, Newberg stated that “conducting this study is not simple.” “However, we have never been able to observe anything until the previous 20 years.” So while it is a significant improvement over nothing, it is still far from optimal in comparison to what we would prefer.” Additionally, in order to have a better grasp of what is occurring to them physiologically, Newberg and his team interview meditators about their subjective experiences.
The difficulty in using this strategy has been determining precisely what respondents mean when they use terms such as God or spirituality.
When people talk about spiritual experiences, some say they strengthen their religious convictions, while others say they cause them to drift away from religion and participate in individual practices.
“It’s a little daunting, to be truthful.
“However, I believe it is a calling for me. I’ve always been compelled to pursue this route, and I intend to continue along it in the hopes of discovering something that would be truly beneficial to everyone.”
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If you find yourself in a situation where you are dealing with mental illness or addiction, you may be encouraged by loved ones and specialists to seek consolation in spirituality. Spiritual experiences may take many forms, and for various people, they may involve things such as spending time in nature, learning to meditate, or devoting oneself to a religious practice. Some people, particularly those who have not been exposed to spirituality or who have had terrible experiences with religion in the past, may find it difficult to accept this notion with an open mind since they have not been exposed to it.
Even for the most sceptical of wellness seekers, there may be scientific evidence to suggest that spirituality is a worthwhile endeavor to pursue.
Even before the study of neuroscience began to examine every experience through the prism of brain scans, medical practitioners recognized the capacity of spirituality and religion to enhance both physical and mental health outcomes for patients, regardless of their religious affiliation. There are a number of possible explanations for why this may be the case. Spirituality is frequently associated with religion and community, which means that religious persons are more likely to form meaningful human relationships and to feel as if they are a part of something greater than themselves than nonreligious ones.
People who engage in spiritual activities, whether as a member of a religious group or while meditating alone, are less likely to suffer from extreme stress, which can lead to high blood pressure as a result.
Spirituality and the Brain
Researchers have been attempting to uncover and map the brain processes associated with every possible human experience, including spiritual awakening, in recent years. However, while there is still much more study to be done, the results of current studies have been extremely illuminating when it comes to the relationship between spirituality and the brain, as well as the consequences of this relationship for mental health. One research attempted to understand the way spirituality operates in the brain by utilizing brain scans to detect the activity as volunteers recalled spiritual experiences in order to have a better understanding of the process.
The parietal cortex is important for concentration, whereas the parts of the brain that are less active are responsible for self-awareness, emotions, and sensory information, among other things.
Furthermore, one study discovered that spiritual experiences and sadness both appeared to activate the same parts of the brain, but had diametrically opposed long-term impacts on the participants.
Numerous critical activities associated with healthy mental health are controlled by the prefrontal cortex, including foresight, decision-making, and the ability to alter one’s behavior.
In the case of addiction, which is defined as the inability to change undesirable behavior, this is particularly attractive knowledge. Many rehabilitation centers provide 12-Step programs, and it appears that the spiritual part of these programs may be supported by neuroscience.
Chemical Process of Spirituality
It is possible that a scientist may tell you that the human brain developed to experience spirituality in order to survive, while a priest may tell you that God equipped us with brains that are built to communicate with the spiritual realm. Regardless of your religious beliefs, it has been discovered that spiritual experiences may cause physical and chemical responses in the human brain to occur. In the process of connecting with the cosmos or a higher power, dopamine is released, which is the neurotransmitter that is responsible for pleasure and reward.
- While drugs and alcohol can also momentarily stimulate dopamine production, spirituality does not have the same negative consequences for your health, relationships, money, and overall happiness as drugs and alcohol.
- Whether you or someone you care about is suffering from an addiction, now is the moment to get assistance.
- There is a team of trained and caring specialists ready to assist each client through a comprehensive treatment program that covers all elements of addiction, including the diagnosis of co-occurring illnesses.
- We understand that the road to recovery does not stop with the completion of an inpatient treatment, and as a result, we offer comprehensive aftercare services to assist our clients in making the transition into long-term sobriety.
- For further information, please contact us at (512) 285-5900.
Scientists found the spiritual part of our brains—religion not required
Scientists are obsessed with quantifying everything, including the intangible. The search for meaning in our lives has lately taken a physical turn, thanks to the work of Columbia and Yale University researchers who discovered the part of our brains that interprets spiritual experiences. Neuroscientists explain how they induced “personally meaningful” spiritual experiences in a varied group of people and then scanned their brains while these experiences were taking place in a new research published on May 29 in the journal Cerebral Cortex(paywall).
The findings of the study show that spirituality has a universal, cognitive base, as opposed to such feelings having a cultural basis.
The brain activity of Buddhist monks or Catholic nuns, for example, has been studied in the past; these are people who are already spiritually oriented and experienced with the practice of fostering transcendent realms, and therefore their brain activity has been analyzed in the past.
According to the study, “While studies have related various brain measurements to features of spirituality, none have aimed to directly assess spiritual experiences, particularly when employing a wider, modern definition of spirituality that may be independent of religiousness.” Given the wide variety of transcendent experiences that have various degrees of significance for different people, it has been difficult to evaluate the overall impacts of spirituality, as opposed to religion, in a scientific setting.
- As a result, for this study, the researchers created personalized scripts that placed each participant in a transcendent state that was important to them.
- The scripts were then given to the individuals.
- During their various transcendent experiences, all participants had comparable patterns of activity in the parietal cortex, which is responsible for processing sensation, spatial orientation, and language, as well as being hypothesized to regulate attention, among other things.
- According to the researchers, the effect on the brain is unique from the effect of other types of relaxation such as meditation.
- These alterations in the brain may contribute to the understanding of why, during spiritual experiences, the barrier between the self and others can be decreased or perhaps dissolved entirely.
- Spiritual experiences are “robust states that have the potential to have substantial effects on people’s lives,” according to Marc Potenza, a Yale psychiatry and neuroscience professor who contributed to this study in a statement.
- Scientists will have an easier time researching spiritual experiences and figuring out how to employ such states to enhance mental health as a result of this.
- Scientists are interested in spirituality in addition to mental health since the human search for meaning is eternal and universal.
- According to Tony Jack, director of the Brain, Mind, and Consciousness Laboratory at Case Western Reserve University—who was not engaged in this study—analytical thinking and spiritual, empathetic thinking rely on distinct neurological pathways and processes, according to WKSU.
Although they do not occur concurrently in the brain, both modes are required, just as breathing in and breathing out are required. According to him, “you can’t do both at the same time, but you need both in order to be fit and well.”
Brain circuit for spirituality?
More over 80% of the world’s population considers themselves to be religious or spiritual in some way or another. However, there has been little study into the neurology of spirituality and religiosity. Previous studies have employed functional neuroimaging, in which an individual is subjected to a brain scan while executing a task to determine which parts of the brain light up as a result of the activity. These correlative investigations, on the other hand, have produced a patchy and sometimes conflicting picture of spirituality.
- As its focal point, the periaqueductal gray (PAG), a brainstem area that has been implicated in a variety of processes including fear conditioning and pain modulation as well as altruistic and unconditional love has been found to be involved in this circuit.
- “Our findings suggest that spirituality and religiosity are rooted in fundamental, neurobiological dynamics and are deeply woven into our neuro-fabric,” said corresponding author Michael Ferguson, PhD, a principal investigator in the Brigham’s Center for Brain Circuit Therapeutics.
- Ferguson and colleagues employed a technique known as lesion network mapping to perform their research.
- It was possible for the researchers to use a previously published dataset that comprised 88 neurosurgical patients who were having a brain tumor removed during surgery.
- Before and after surgery, patients were asked to complete a survey that included questions regarding their spiritual acceptance.
- These participants also completed questionnaires that contained questions regarding their religious beliefs (for example, “Do you believe in God?”) “Are you someone who considers oneself to be religious?
- “If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected].
The scientists discovered that self-reported spirituality was associated with an unique brain circuit focused on the PAG through the use of lesion network mapping.
The results of the second dataset, which measured religiosity, were consistent with similar findings.
The spirituality circuit was crossed by lesion areas related with different neurological and psychiatric symptoms as well as the spirituality circuit.
Lesions generating delusions and alien limb syndrome intersected with negative areas, which were related with higher spirituality and religion, according to the results of the study.
“To provide some examples, our findings do not suggest that religion is a delusion, that previous religious individuals suffered from alien limb syndrome, or that Parkinson’s disease develops as a result of a lack of religious belief.
They would need to duplicate their study across a wide range of backgrounds in order to determine the generalizability of their findings.
As a result of the discoveries, Ferguson hopes to research clinical and translational uses for them, such as determining the role that spirituality and compassion may have in therapeutic therapy.
Healing and spirituality appear to be inextricably linked throughout nations and civilizations, as if they were one and the same thing “Ferguson expressed his thoughts on the subject.
The Ruth L.
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More over 80% of the world’s population considers themselves to be religious or spiritual in some way or other. However, there has been little investigation into the neurobiology of spirituality and religion. Previous studies have employed functional neuroimaging, in which an individual is subjected to a brain scan while executing a task to determine which parts of the brain light up as a result of their performance. Correlative research, on the other hand, has produced a patchy and sometimes conflicting picture of spirituality.
This brain circuit is focused in the periaqueductal gray (PAG), a brainstem area that has been linked in a wide range of processes, including fear conditioning, pain regulation, altruistic behavior, and unconditional love, to name a few.
In the words of corresponding author Michael Ferguson, PhD, a principal investigator in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Center for Brain Circuit Therapeutics, “our findings suggest that spirituality and religiosity are rooted in fundamental, neurobiological dynamics and deeply woven into our neuro-fabric.” According to the researchers, “we were surprised to discover that this spirituality-related brain circuit is focused in one of the brain’s most evolutionarily maintained regions.” Ferguson and colleagues employed a technique known as lesion network mapping to carry out their research.
- This approach allows researchers to map complex human behaviors to specific brain circuits based on the locations of brain lesions in patients.
- Lesion sites were found all across the brain, in different areas of interest.
- This second dataset, which included more than 100 individuals who had suffered penetrating head injuries during battle during the Vietnam War, allowed the researchers to confirm their findings.
- If so, what are your thoughts?
- The scientists discovered that self-reported spirituality was associated with a particular brain circuit focused on the PAG through the use of lesion network mapping techniques.
- The results of the second dataset, which measured religiosity, were consistent with similar conclusions.
- The spirituality circuit was crossed by lesion areas related with various neurological and mental symptoms as well.
Lesions generating delusions and alien limb syndrome intersected with negative areas, which were related with higher spirituality and religion, according to the results of the research.
“To provide some examples, our findings do not suggest that religion is an illusion, that past religious individuals suffered from alien limb syndrome, or that Parkinson’s disease develops as a result of a lack of religious faith.
A replication study across a wide range of backgrounds would be required to determine the generalizability of their findings.
Aside from that, Ferguson would want to study clinical and translational applications for the results, including a better understanding of the role that spirituality and compassion may play in clinical treatments.
Across nations and civilizations, there appears to be a persistent marriage between healing and spirituality “Ferguson expressed himself.
The Ruth L.
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Spirituality is a brain state we can all reach, religious or not
Spirit-filled experiences are characterized by William James, the founding father of Western psychology, in 1902 as states of higher consciousness that are caused by attempts to comprehend universal principles or the structure of the universe via one’s inner experience. One of the major concepts in his spiritual philosophy is what we may term ‘connectedness.’ This concept is based on the idea that individual goals can only be fully realized when they are considered in the context of the whole – one’s connection with the environment and with others.
The existence of this higher level of awareness and connection has been described in many spiritual traditions, from Buddhism to Sufism, Judaism to Christianity and many other religious traditions as well.
Scientific and artistic epiphanies, as well as the euphoric states that precede them and are characterized by a sense of oneness and happiness, are comparable to religious experiences in that both involve a higher degree of present and observation than is normally experienced.
However, these do not have to be one-of-a-kind events available only to a select few.
As the Nobel laureate and poet Czeslaw Miosz phrased it: ‘Description necessitates intensive observation, so intense that the veil of everyday habit is lifted and what we had previously overlooked because it appeared so common is exposed as amazing.’ I’m a neurologist, and one of my research interests is the way spiritual moods manifest themselves in the brain and other regions of the body, among other things.
Self-awareness, empathy, and a sense of belonging have all been demonstrated to be associated with spiritual activities, and the frequency of brainwaves recorded by an electroencephalogram has been shown to be correlated with these qualities (EEG).
Expert meditators, on the other hand, exhibit higher ‘harmonious’ brain waves, which may be suggestive of increased synchronization or connection within and across distinct neural regions.
More to the point, research shows that we can do more with this type of activity than simply monitor it.
It has been discovered that practicing diverse contemplative paradigms, such as meditation and prayer, leads to increased synchronisation — envision a huge group of brain cells singing together – in the brain (creating, as it were, slower ocean waves, now growing calmer and calmer).
This means that we may achieve a condition in which the brain operates in a more congruent manner and takes a more global viewpoint.
Neuronal synchronisation is also associated with a sense of being more self-connected, which can lead to an increase in empathy, creativity, and social effectiveness as a result of this.
According to Tasha Eurich, a psychologist and author of Insight(2017), increased self-awareness leads to higher confidence, better decisions, healthier relationships, and more effective communication, according to a 2018 article published in the Harvard Business Review.
By transcending our immediate surroundings, we may live a more “rounded” existence, shifting our attention away from fundamental needs and concerns and toward ideals.
Another point of view is that scientific investigation of such experiences may uncover the processes that allow us all to acquire these moods even in the most ordinary situations, such as while sitting in traffic.
Simply said, I’ve witnessed firsthand how spirituality can be experienced in a laboratory setting!
The majority of my research over the past two decades has been tied to a movement meditation technique called Quadrato Motor Training (QMT), which requires both coordination and awareness on the part of the practitioner.
When practicing QMT, it is necessary for the participant to be actively aware of both the inner and outside “worlds” at the same time, in order to establish a connection between the “external” world and the inner realm.
For example, when most people think of a plain glass, they will automatically identify it with the act of drinking it.
EEG measurements revealed that the greater cognitive flexibility associated with QMT training was also accompanied with higher brain synchronisation of the type previously linked with relaxation, attentiveness and being in a flow state, according to the researchers.
What else contributes to the production of neuronal synchronization?
This is startling.
Figure 1: Consciousness as a Sphere of Consciousness FIGURE 2: The OVO chamber, designed by Patrizio Paoletti in the shape of an egg and based on his Sphere Model of Consciousness, is shaped in the shape of an egg.
As a result, it was discovered that this was accompanied with an enhanced sense of ‘absorption’ (akin to that feeling you get when overwhelmed by the beauty of a sunset, as you fully and voluntarily engage your attention in the experience).
In the case of losing it, what exactly do we lose is not immediately apparent.
However, even if we don’t have access to an external “egg” chamber, we can still position ourselves at the center of our own “sphere” in our daily lives by focusing on ourselves.
A conscious effort is made to go toward a clearly defined “goal” state, which in Paoletti’s paradigm is represented by the center of our inner sphere.
In addition to finding Paoletti’s Sphere Model of Consciousness valuable in my neuroscience study, I also use it as a practical instrument for self-observation, which I find to be quite beneficial.
Consider the following scenario: you’re driving and you notice the sun setting.
Consider the following scenario: you are on the same road.
Is your initial instinct to become enraged and start running after them, putting yourself and others in danger?
While the former choice requires engaging a more mature, present part of ourselves in the current once-in-a-lifetime moment, the later option includes being totally engaged to the experience of the sights, sounds, and fragrances.
In contrast, each time we respond involuntarily, we are no longer rooted in our center but are instead dominated by a more automatic state that we have not chosen, and as a result, we are less connected both inside ourselves and to the larger good.
In the case of losing it, what exactly do we lose is not immediately apparent.
We all lose our way from time to time, but we can reduce the frequency with which we do so by regularly reconnecting with our best selves and with one another.
‘Mom, I know how to meditate,’ my inquisitive 17-year-old daughter informed me.
The means to get there are already in place; all that remains is for you to keep ascending.
We can all train and monitor our spirituality using easy, non-invasive ways, which will allow us to live more vibrantly as a result.
Thank you for your support. Unless otherwise stated, the opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Foundation. The decision-making process for Aeon+Psyche is not influenced by the organization’s funders.