Spiritual Experiences Appear to Affect Neural Reward Circuits

Share this content:
Spiritual Experiences Appear to Affect Neural Reward Circuits
Spiritual Experiences Appear to Affect Neural Reward Circuits

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 30, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Religious experiences appear to trigger the brain's reward system as evidenced by radiological findings, according to a study published online Nov. 29 in Social Neuroscience.

Researchers conducted functional magnetic resonance imaging brain scans of 19 devout young adult churchgoers while they were doing activities meant to boost spiritual feelings. All of the participants had been Mormon missionaries.

Almost all said they'd experienced feelings of peace and physical sensations of warmth during the experiment. Besides activating the brain's reward circuits, the spiritual feelings triggered activity in the nucleus accumbens, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, and frontal attentional regions -- areas of the brain that handle tasks involving valuation, judgment, and moral reasoning.

"We're just beginning to understand how the brain participates in experiences that believers interpret as spiritual, divine, or transcendent," senior author Jeff Anderson, M.D., Ph.D., a neuroradiologist at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, said in a university news release. "Religious experience is perhaps the most influential part of how people make decisions that affect all of us, for good and for ill. Understanding what happens in the brain to contribute to those decisions is really important."

Full Text

Share this content:

is free, fast, and customized just for you!

Already a member?

Sign In Now »

Drug Lookup

Browse drugs by: BrandGenericDisease

Trending Activities

All Professions



Sign up for myCME e-newsletters


More in Home

USPSTF Urges Abuse Screening for Reproductive-Aged Women

USPSTF Urges Abuse Screening for Reproductive-Aged Women

Evidence lacking for assessing balance of benefits, harms of screening for abuse of seniors, vulnerable

Five-Day Nitrofurantoin Beats Single-Dose Fosfomycin for UTI

Five-Day Nitrofurantoin Beats Single-Dose Fosfomycin for UTI

Increased likelihood of clinical and microbiological resolution for uncomplicated UTI in women

Exercise Intervention Doesn't Improve Walking Ability in PAD

Exercise Intervention Doesn't Improve Walking Ability in PAD

Smaller mean change from baseline to follow-up in 6-minute walking distance with exercise intervention

is free, fast, and customized just for you!

Already a member?

Sign In Now »