15 September 2011

The Future of Neurotheology

The Future of Neurotheology, by Andrew Newberg (Science+Religion Today, 24 December 2010)

Excerpts:
Neurotheology is still very early in its development. Truly combining neuroscience with religious and spiritual phenomena was only possible with the advent of modern brain imaging techniques. Before the development of these techniques, the rudiments of neurotheology were developed based primarily on animal models and speculation. Today, we have begun to uncover substantial information regarding the relationship between the human brain and religious and spiritual practices and experiences

In the next five years, neurotheology will likely continue to advance our understanding of how the brain is associated with religious and spiritual phenomena. Most likely, the brain imaging studies that have become an important aspect of neurotheology will continue to expand. There are many types of practices and experiences that remain to be evaluated using brain imaging techniques. Traditions might be compared, as well as the wide variety of practices within each tradition. Imaging studies, along with other clinical studies, will help us better understand not only what happens in the brain at the time of a particular practice, such as meditation or prayer, but also how such practices affect us over time. Already, we understand that practices like meditation and prayer can lower anxiety and depression, and even help the brain remember better. Such improvements are associated with long-term changes in the brain’s function. Thus, religion, spirituality, and God all can change your brain.
Link: The Future of Neurotheology


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