Finding God in the Brain
Posted on Oct 8, 2007
Is having a religious experience a matter of stimulating a particular area of the brain? The God-o-thalamus, perhaps? (Er, sorry.) Neuroscientists at the University of Montreal are studying functional MRI (fMRI) scans to see if they can find such an area and then, perhaps, artificially induce a heavenly state of mind.
Scientific American Mind via Boing Boing:
Scientists and scholars have long speculated that religious feeling can be tied to a specific place in the brain. In 1892 textbooks on mental illness noted a link between “religious emotionalism” and epilepsy. Nearly a century later, in 1975, neurologist Norman Geschwind of the Boston Veterans Administration Hospital first clinically described a form of epilepsy in which seizures originate as electrical misfirings within the temporal lobes, large sections of the brain that sit over the ears. Epileptics who have this form of the disorder often report intense religious experiences, leading Geschwind and others, such as neuropsychiatrist David Bear of Vanderbilt University, to speculate that localized electrical storms in the brain’s temporal lobe might sometimes underlie an obsession with religious or moral issues.
Are you there, God? Neuroscientists look at fMRI scans such as this one to identify which areas of the brain correspond to various functions and behaviors.