Neuroimaging and Spiritual Practice

Mario Beauregard

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

Neuroimaging and Spiritual Practice

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  • Cognitive Psychology



In this chapter, we first define religious, spiritual, and mystical experiences (RSMEs). We then review clinical data suggesting a role for the temporal lobe in RSMEs. The possibility of experimentally inducing such experiences by stimulating the temporal lobe with weak electromagnetic currents is examined. The limbic-marker hypothesis is also presented. In the following section, we examine the findings of neuroimaging studies of RSMEs conducted to date. Since meditation is often associated with spiritual practice, we review in the fourth section neuroimaging studies of diverse meditative states. In the next section, we discuss neuroimaging data and phenomenology of RSMEs with respect to the mind-brain problem. In the last section, we provide a few concluding remarks and propose new opportunities for expanding the neuroscience of spirituality.

Keywords: neuroimaging; brain; temporal lobe; religious; spiritual; and mystical experiences (RSMEs); meditation; mind-brain problem

Article.  10102 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology

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