Spirituality Shows in Brain Imaging

. Thursday, December 25

Researcher Brick Johnstone of Missouri University has simplified the confusing, too broad results of previous studies that attempted to define areas of the brain that reflect an individual's level of spirituality. It seems that it was impossible to determine whether a person's brain was reacting to verse or spiritual experience. Johnstone returned to studying brain injured patients and looked for brain region activity and patients' self-reported level of spirituality.

At the root of Johnstone's finding, those that reported higher levels of spirituality had less active right parietal lobes, the center of the brain that he calls the Me-Definer. Psychologically, this means less selfishness and less focus on the self, with more focus on others.

"If you look in the Torah, the Old Testament, the New Testament, in the Koran, a lot of Sufi writings, Buddhist writings, and Hindu writings, they all talk about selflessness," said Johnstone.