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Neurotheology: Discovering the Neural Substrates of Religious Experiences
University of Skövde, School of Bioscience.
2014 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

What are the neural substrates of religious experiences? This essay attempts to answer the question by identifying key studies in the field of neurotheology. Topics include: neuroimaging studies of prayer, the neural substrates of drug-induced mystical states and the neural underpinnings of religious experiences during epileptic seizures. The results of the aforementioned studies are explained and compared to each other. Additionally, leading theories on the neural substrates of religious experiences are discussed. The research suggests that several brain areas are involved in religious experiences. Areas include: the temporal lobe, the prefrontal cortex and the posterior superior parietal lobe. However, the essay also concludes that neuroscientific research has reached rather inconclusive results on the neural substrates of religious experiences, both empirically and theoretically. Consequently, the discussion chapter examines whether methodological problems could account for that incongruence. Another possibility is that religious experiences lack a common neural substrate, since it is a very complex phenomenon. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. , 58 p.
Keyword [en]
neurotheology, spiritual neuroscience, religious experiences, mystical state, meditative state
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:his:diva-9631OAI: oai:DiVA.org:his-9631DiVA: diva2:731107
Subject / course
Cognitive Neuroscience
Educational program
Consciousness Studies - Philosophy and Neuropsychology
Available from: 2014-08-11 Created: 2014-06-30 Last updated: 2014-08-11Bibliographically approved

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