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Zack Lynch is author of The Neuro Revolution: How Brain Science Is Changing Our World (St. Martin's Press, July 2009).
He is the founder and executive director of the Neurotechnology Industry Organization (NIO) and co-founder of NeuroInsights. He serves on the advisory boards of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, the Center for Neuroeconomic Studies, Science Progress, and SocialText, a social software company. Please send newsworthy items or feedback - to Zack Lynch.
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Brain Waves

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September 12, 2006

'God Net' Not 'God Spot' Says Latest Neurotheological Experiment

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Why do different gods exist? Why do certain tribes subscribe to one god over another or even to many gods? Can neurotechnology help us better understand our relationship to our belief in higher powers?

Until recently, religion and spirituality were deemed as cultural, a product of social conditioning, and not biological. Religious beliefs and spirituality was the 'playing field' for theologists and philosophers, not biologists and scientists. Many scientists were skeptical and unwilling to consider the spiritual as science.

cover-leary-brain-god2-1579510523.jpgNow neurotheological researchers around the globe are examining what specifically happens within the brain when a person has a “religious” or “spiritual” experience. The latest controversy revolves around whether or not there is a 'God Spot', a singular spiritual center in the brain, a module of neural circuits specifically designed for religious experience.

Speculation about the God Spot was triggered in 1997 when a team at the University of California, San Diego, saw that people with temporal-lobe epilepsy were prone to religious hallucinations which lead some researchers to stimulate temporal lobes artificially to see if he could induce a religious state. They found that this could create a "sensed presence".

However, recently a group of Carmelite nuns have been assisting scientists in their quest to discover a circuit of nerves in the brain to explain man’s almost universal belief in a deity. As part of their research they found no God Spot. "The God module, as some scientists call it, is a mirage," according to the study by Dr Mario Beauregard of the Department of Psychology at the Université de Montréal published in the journal Neuroscience Letters.

"The main goal of the study was to identify the neural correlates of a mystical experience," said Dr. Beauregard. The study demonstrated that a dozen different regions of the brain are activated during a mystical experience. In other words, mystical experiences are mediated by several brain regions and systems normally implicated in functions such as self-consciousness, emotion and body representation.

Bottom line: We have a "God Net" not a "God Spot." So what will be next? Perhaps, a spotted God net?

Comments (11) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neurosociety


1. A.T. Murray on September 13, 2006 9:51 AM writes...

There is no God Spot in the Mind.html artificial intelligence, although, to paraphrase Friedrich Nietzsche, it may be necessary to invent one.

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2. Kensai on September 15, 2006 1:33 PM writes...

Neurotheology: I wonder when traditional Theology Schools in universities would appoint professorships on this discipline!

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3. Clark B. on September 15, 2006 1:39 PM writes...

If you could invent one then you'd be one, and your task would be redundant. Although I love the reference to Nietzsche for this topic.

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4. Shane Widner on October 8, 2006 3:37 PM writes...

Who is to say that the God Net is not our personal receiver/transmitter for/to the divine?

As for Nietzsche, he went insane towards the end of his life...ironic, eh?

Any thoughts on this?

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5. mark on December 3, 2006 6:48 PM writes...

As for Nietzsche going 'insane'...

'insane' is in the mind of the beholder.

The one-eyed man in the country of the blind and all that...

This whole planet is quite probably an asylum for the criminally insane - how else could you explain our behavior!

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6. mark on December 3, 2006 6:50 PM writes...

As for Nietzsche going 'insane'...

'insane' is in the mind of the beholder.

The one-eyed man in the country of the blind and all that...

This whole planet is quite probably an asylum for the criminally insane - how else could you explain our behavior!

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7. ARLAN DEAN on December 11, 2006 8:03 AM writes...

"Hello and thank you for calling 1-800-MY DIETY, your God, your way--every day can also visit our website at:"

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8. James Jerreau on June 14, 2007 3:45 AM writes...

It just strikes me as silly to not admit that Nietzsche was insane, by any reasonable definition, during MUCH of his life. The disconnect between his actual life and his ideas would seem to demonstrate this.

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9. GOD on October 20, 2007 8:55 AM writes...

I took a vacation. Get off your high horse, I went to another planet in another galaxy. These 'people' do not make a big deal about the beginning or if I exist. GET A LIFE. I'm very benevolent, those that can't decide if I exist or not are in for a big surprise when their end comes.

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10. Ken H. on October 22, 2007 6:45 PM writes...

God Spot? Well there is the human brain, which is not isolated from light and radiation from the outside world by the skull. The God Spot, well that would be the distant influence of the Black Hole in the center of the Milkyway Galaxy. Religion is to protect mankind from such stellar influences on the brain.

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11. Ken H. on October 23, 2007 10:41 AM writes...

The God Spot and the Black Hole at the center of the Milkway Galaxy? How do I know? Well its written in the english languauge, that is the effects of stellar space and the violent, speeding activity of planets circling around the Blackhole. Nothing comes out of the Blackhole, but its magnetic activity what affects language. For example the word Religion? Can you identify the letter for Earth, a letter for Spiral Galaxy and letter for the Blackhole. All the other letters relate to plantery activity in outerspace. What about word God? Where is the galaxy, the blackhole and a planetry path. Why because of the space-time continuum.

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