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Neuropsychology of Religious Experience James A. Van Slyke.

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Presentation on theme: "Neuropsychology of Religious Experience James A. Van Slyke."— Presentation transcript:

1 Neuropsychology of Religious Experience James A. Van Slyke

2 Andrew Newberg University of Pennsylvania – Medical Doctor – Neuropsychologist/Neuroscientist Investigates neural correlates of religious experience – “Neurotheology” – Meditation, Prayer, Glossolalia

3 Cognitive Sciences and the Mind Neuropsychology of Religious Experiences – Brain images of Tibetan Buddhists and Franciscan Nuns Increased activity in frontal lobe and right parietal lobe during meditation Brain is quite active in a specialized way during religious experience

4 Brain changes in response to meditation (Newberg et. al. 2009) Differences between long-term and short- term mediators at rest – Long-term mediators showed differences in brain activity in several different areas (prefrontal cortex, parietal cortex and others) – Greater asymmetry in thalamus Causes? – Meditation may change brain activity over time – Certain brain architectures may lend itself to meditative states

5 Meditation effects on Memory Loss (Newberg et. al. 2010) Subjects – Mild forms of memory impairment (Age = 52-77) 8 week meditation program Increased brain activity in prefrontal, superior frontal, parietal areas Improvements in neuropsych testing – Verbal fluency – Logical memory

6 Ritual Effects on Anxiety (Anastasi & Newberg 2008) Subjects - 30 students from Catholic College – 12 students recited rosary – 18 students watched religious video Students who recited rosary showed significant decrease in anxiety Religious ritual practices may play important role in psychological well-being

7 Speaking in Tongues and Brain activity (Newberg et. al. 2006) Speaking in tongues (glossolalia) demonstrates increases brain activity in frontal lobes, parietal lobes, and left caudate

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