God and your Brain
- Published: Tuesday, 21 March 2017 06:01
This is your brain on God: Spiritual experiences activate brain reward circuits
An fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) scan shows regions of the brain that become active when devoutly religious study participants have a spiritual experience, including a reward center in the brain, the nucleus accumbens. Credit: Jeffrey Anderson
Religious and spiritual experiences activate the brain reward circuits in much the same way as love, sex, gambling, drugs and music, report researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine. The findings will be published Nov. 29 in the journal Social Neuroscience.
“We're just beginning to understand how the brain participates in experiences that believers interpret as spiritual, divine or transcendent,” says senior author and neuroradiologist Jeff Anderson. “In the last few years, brain imaging technologies have matured in ways that are letting us approach questions that have been around for millennia.”