Does the brain change during a religious experience?

Recent studies have shown that numerous parts of the brain are activated in the midst of a religious experience.

Andrew Newberg of the University of Pennsylvania used an imaging technology called single photo emission computed tomography, or SPECT, to take pictures of the brain during spiritual experiences.

That type of imaging is able to take a picture of the blood flow to the brain at any given time. More blood flow indicates more activities.

One of Newberg's studies involved Tibetan Buddhist monks while they were meditating.

His study found increased activity in the frontal lobe of the brain, which indicated the monks were concentrating. He also found substantially decreased activity in the parietal lobe, which is the part of the brain which orients a person in space. In other words, this lobe helps you to know that you're 15 feet away from the door, or 6 feet away from the bathroom and so on.

Newberg thinks that this decreased activity in the parietal lobe is what causes the monks to lose their differentiation between where they end and the universe begins, becoming at one with the universe a state some describe as transcendence.

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