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Brain surgery boosts spirituality

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By Virgil - Posted on 11 February 2010

Removing part of the brain can induce inner peace, according to researchers from Italy. Their study provides the strongest evidence to date that spiritual thinking arises in, or is limited by, specific brain areas.

To investigate the neural basis of spirituality, Cosimo Urgesi, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Udine, and his colleagues turned to people with brain tumours to assess the feeling before and after surgery. Three to seven days after the removal of tumours from the posterior part of the brain, in the parietal cortex, patients reported feeling a greater sense of self-transcendence. This was not the case for patients with tumours removed from the frontal regions of the brain.

"Self-transcendence used to be considered just by philosophers and crank new age people," says co-author Salvatore Aglioti, a cognitive neuroscientist at the Sapienza University of Rome. "This is the first really close-up study on spirituality. We're dealing with a complex phenomenon that's close to the essence of being human."

The authors pinpointed two parts of the brain that, when damaged, led to increases in spirituality: the left inferior parietal lobe and the right angular gyrus. These areas at the back of the brain are involved in how we perceive our bodies in spatial relation to the external world. The authors of the study in the journal Neuron1, say that their findings support the connection between mystic experiences and feeling detached from the body.

"The most surprising part was the rapidity of the change," says Urgesi. "This discovery shows that some complex personality traits are more malleable than previously thought."

You can read the entire article here.

JL's picture

It appears that their definition of spirituality is this "sense of self-transcendence."

"Self-transcendence" is the feeling that you transcend yourself, you are outside of yourself, you are greater than yourself, you are at one with the universe, you are all knowing, all wise, etc.

That's brain damage? I thought we called that liberalism.


JL Vaughn
Beyond Creation Science

Sam's picture

These patients should try smoking's sound like the researchers already are.

JL's picture

Brain damage causes spirituality?


JL Vaughn
Beyond Creation Science

Virgil's picture

Exactly!! So the more insane you are, the more spiritual! :) At least according to the liberals!

Ed's picture



Papa is especially fond of us

JL's picture


Remember the old Cheech and Chong skits? One of my favorite lines was

"I used to be all messed up on drugs. Now I'm all messed up on the Lord."


JL Vaughn
Beyond Creation Science

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