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No 'God Spot' In Brain

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  • medit8ionsociety
    No God Spot In Brain, Spirituality Linked To Right Parietal Lobe
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 23, 2012
      No 'God Spot' In Brain, Spirituality Linked
      To Right Parietal Lobe


      Scientists have speculated that the human brain
      features a "God spot," one distinct area of the
      brain responsible for spirituality. Now, University
      of Missouri researchers have completed research
      that indicates spirituality is a complex phenomenon,
      and multiple areas of the brain are responsible for
      the many aspects of spiritual experiences.

      "We have found a neuropsychological basis for spirituality,
      but it's not isolated to one specific area of the brain,"
      said Brick Johnstone, professor of health psychology in
      the School of Health Professions. "Spirituality is a
      much more dynamic concept that uses many parts of the
      brain. Certain parts of the brain play more predominant roles, but they all work together to facilitate individuals' spiritual experiences."

      In the most recent study, Johnstone studied 20 people
      with traumatic brain injuries affecting the right parietal
      lobe, the area of the brain situated a few inches above
      the right ear. He surveyed participants on characteristics of spirituality, such as how close they felt to a higher
      power and if they felt their lives were part of a divine
      plan. He found that the participants with more significant
      injury to their right parietal lobe showed an increased
      feeling of closeness to a higher power.

      "Neuropsychology researchers consistently have shown that
      impairment on the right side of the brain decreases one's
      focus on the self," Johnstone said. "Since our research
      shows that people with this impairment are more spiritual,
      this suggests spiritual experiences are associated with a
      decreased focus on the self. This is consistent with many
      religious texts that suggest people should concentrate on
      the well-being of others rather than on themselves."

      Johnstone says the right side of the brain is associated
      with self-orientation, whereas the left side is associated
      with how individuals relate to others. Although Johnstone
      studied people with brain injury, previous studies of Buddhist meditators and Franciscan nuns with normal brain function
      have shown that people can learn to minimize the functioning
      of the right side of their brains to increase their spiritual connections during meditation and prayer.

      Johnstone makes the comparison to other kinds of disciplines;
      "It is like playing the piano, the more you train your brain,
      the more the brain becomes predisposed to piano playing.
      Practice makes perfect."

      While researchers have been focused on finding a 'God spot'
      in the brain, the new research suggests that it might be
      better to focus on the neuropsychological questions of self
      focus vs selfless focus. As Prof. Johnstone explains: "when
      the brain focuses less on the the self (by decreased activity
      in the right lobe) it is by definition a moment of
      self-transcendence and can be understood as being connected
      to God or Nirvana. It is the sensation of feeling like you
      are part of a bigger thing."

      The research does not make claims about spiritual truths but demonstrates the way that the brain allows for different
      kinds of spiritual experiences that Christians might name
      God, Buddhists it could be Nirvana, and for atheists it might
      be the feeling of being connected to the earth.

      On the other end of the spectrum, Professor Johnstone admits
      that for him it is the music of Led Zeppelin that helps him
      transcend himself: "When I put on my headphones and listen
      to "Stairway to Heaven" I just get lost."
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