Transformation of Brain Structure and Spiritual Experience

Andrew B. Newberg

in The Oxford Handbook of Psychology and Spirituality

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199729920
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Transformation of Brain Structure and Spiritual Experience

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  • Cognitive Psychology



This chapter will review the transformations of brain structure and function associated with spiritual experiences by considering the current state of neurophysiological investigations of spiritual experiences in terms of brain imaging, neurotransmitter studies, hormone function, and immune function. There are currently a number of techniques for studying the brain and its related functions. Such techniques include single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), positron emission tomography (PET), and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). As will be discussed in this chapter, these imaging techniques can observe the very broad function of different structures of the brain as well as detailed neurotransmitter systems with regard to spiritual experience. Additional studies of various hormone levels, autonomic activity, and immune function can also be integrated into a comprehensive model that can be utilized to help better understand the biological correlates of spiritual experiences.

Keywords: brain; spirituality; religion; experience; fMRI; PET; SPECT; neurotransmitter

Article.  7242 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology

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