About this author
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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May 14, 2008

Neurotheology Rising - The Neural Buddhists

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Posted by Zack Lynch

shutterstock_2149425.jpgDavid Brooks continues his quest to discuss everything in terms of neuroscience. This week in The Neural Buddhists he declares, "Just as 'The Origin of Species' reshaped social thinking, just as Einstein’s theory of relativity affected art, so the revolution in neuroscience is having an effect on how people see the world.

He goes on, "This new wave of research will not seep into the public realm in the form of militant atheism. Instead it will lead to what you might call neural Buddhism." The implications of which he suggest will be the following. "First, the self is not a fixed entity but a dynamic process of relationships. Second, underneath the patina of different religions, people around the world have common moral intuitions. Third, people are equipped to experience the sacred, to have moments of elevated experience when they transcend boundaries and overflow with love. Fourth, God can best be conceived as the nature one experiences at those moments, the unknowable total of all there is."

And he so aptly ends with, "We’re in the middle of a scientific revolution. It’s going to have big cultural effects." I think Brooks will be a fan of The Brain Wave when it is released next May.

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October 4, 2006

Stimulating an "Out of Body Experience"...Seriously

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Posted by Zack Lynch

In yesterday's NYTimes Sandra Blakeslee follows up on a topic I blogged on in January in "Is God in Your Brain? Neurotheology." In "Out-of-Body Experience? Your Brain Is to Blame" she writes:

"They are eerie sensations, more common than one might think: A man describes feeling a shadowy figure standing behind him, then turning around to find no one there. A woman feels herself leaving her body and floating in space, looking down on her corporeal self. Such experiences are often attributed by those who have them to paranormal forces.

But according to recent work by neuroscientists, they can be induced by delivering mild electric current to specific spots in the brain. In one woman, for example, a zap to a brain region called the angular gyrus resulted in a sensation that she was hanging from the ceiling, looking down at her body. In another woman, electrical current delivered to the angular gyrus produced an uncanny feeling that someone was behind her, intent on interfering with her actions (the electrodes were being implanted during epilepsy surgery).

'The research shows that the self can be detached from the body and can live a phantom existence on its own, as in an out-of-body experience, or it can be felt outside of personal space, as in a sense of a presence,'" said Dr. Peter Brugger, a neuroscientist not directly involved in the experiments."

front_temporal.jpgThis research has obvious implications for neurotheology, the study of the neurobiology of spiritual experiences which I have written about here, here, and here. I'm looking for researchers who are currently conducting new studies using TMS to stimulate OBE's. If you are one, or know of a researcher who is, please contact me for a story I'm writing.

Comments (6) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neurotheology