Spiritual practice can grow your brain

Spiritual practice and meditating on God can grow your brain, improve your memory and may slow aging according to a new book, How God Changes Your Brain.

Our newest brain-scan research showed that different forms of meditation and spiritual practice can actually improve memory, and it may even slow down the aging process itself. We had also gathered enough data to draw a more comprehensive picture of how spiritual practices affect and change different parts of the brain, and we wanted to share this new perspective with the general public. We also wanted to present evidence showing how the religious landscape of America is moving from traditional values to a more spiritual and science-based vision of the universe.
Religion Dispatches interviews the authors:
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about your topic?

People use our research to say that we’ve proven that God exists. Other people use the same research to say that we’ve proven that spiritual realms are solely a construction within the mind. In fact, we are saying neither. We argue that the human brain can only grasp a vague notion of what actually exists “out there,” and we document how the brain uses its perceptions to build useful models of the world, other people, morality, and God.

Read the interview here.

Comments (3)

I'm reading their book - about a third of the way through it. Another of their findings is that the way one thinks about good determines whether the centers of the brain that we call on for compassion, collaboration, resourcefulness, and hope/expectancy grow UNLESS the God we contemplate, pray to, meditate on is vengeful, judgmental and punitive. Religious practice of that kind demonstrably diminishes brain function in the compassion/empahty/resourcefulness part of the brain. I'm really glad to see this interview posted here at the Cafe and hope many of us will read their book.

Obviously brain science can't tell us conclusively whether God is calling is toward more compassion and acceptance of others or towards more tribal and individualized division. But we do have evidence for the consequence of those choices - one choice grows a richer and more richly related person, the other a more isolated, lonely, and potentially dangerous person.

Woops, there's a more or less typo in my previous post, though it accidentally fits the book. In the second line I meant to write, 'the way one thinks about God...' though their findings, which include study of atheists and possible non-theists like Buddhists, would also reinforce that 'the way one thinks about good...' whether those key brain centers will grow or not.

It looks very interesting.

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