AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 3, 2017

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Researchers Find Neurological Link Between Religious Experiences and Epilepsy

A relationship between epilepsy and heightened religious experiences has been recognized since at least the 19th century. In a recent study, researchers from the University of Missouri found a neurological relationship exists between religiosity — a disposition for spiritual experience and religious activity — and epilepsy. This finding sheds light on the connection between religion and neuropsychological processes within the human brain. “Past research has indicated that humans might have a distinctive neurological tendency toward being spiritually oriented,” said Brick Johnstone, a neuropsychologist and professor of health psychology. “This research supports the notion that the human propensity for religious or spiritual experiences may be neurologically based.” “The end goal of this research is to understand if some type of connection exists between the brain and spiritual experience,” said Daniel Cohen, co-author and assistant professor of religious studies. “If a connection exists, what does it mean for humans and their relationship with religion?”

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