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January 20, 2005

Is God in Your Brain? - Neurotheology

Topics: Neurotheology

Zack over at Corante had this interesting post on Jan 19, which I initially missed:

People everywhere say that they have had out-of-body experiences. (Follow this link to read people's stories).

In this week's Journal of Neuroscience, Blanke et al. attempt to link the phenomenon known as an out-of-body experience (OBE) with specific brain activity. During an OBE, one senses that the "self" departs the body so that the body and the world can be viewed from "outside." Healthy volunteers imagined an OBE, mentally shifting their visual perspective and body position. Evoked potential mapping revealed selective activation at the temporoparietal junction. It seems that out of the body is not necessarily out of the brain."

So maybe the phrase "In Neurons We Trust" isn't that far off the mark. Special kudos to the research team: Olaf Blanke, Christine Mohr, Christoph M. Michel, Alvaro Pascual-Leone, Peter Brugger, Margitta Seeck, Theodor Landis, and Gregor Thut.        -End item

So the researchers used evoked potential mapping in healthy volunteers to determine if they could duplicate what a person having a true religious experience, experiences. So if we desire to have a spiritual experience we can electrically stimulate our temporoparietal junction, or we could just worship God and feel the same thing. Well, I guess there are those that prefer the electrical approach, but....

Related articles:

This is Your Brain on God
The new field of neurotheology is examining what specifically happens within the brain when a person has a religious or spiritual experience. Early research is showing that not only does a person's brain activity change in particular areas while that person is experiencing a religious epiphany, but such epiphanies can be occasioned, for some people, by stimulating various parts of the brain by various means. These findings underscore the importance of permitting individuals unfettered access to the full-spectrum of consciousness, and the freedom to achieve various states of mind by various means. Newsweek's May 7, 2001 issue features a good summary of what's happening in the field of neurotheology. Read the Newsweek article online.

For a slightly more spiritually-oriented approach, visit, " Neurotheology 1 - "Temporal Lobe Epilepsy and Religion." I found this site to be very interesting.

Posted by Hyscience at January 20, 2005 2:48 PM

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