Is there a 'God spot' in the brain?
Washington: Scientists have long speculated on a 'God spot,' a distinct area of the human brain responsible for spirituality, but actually multiple areas of the organ may be linked with such experiences, says a study.
"We have found a neuro-psychological basis for spirituality, but it's not isolated to one specific area of the brain," said Brick Johnstone, professor of health psychology in University of Missouri School of Health Professions, who led the study.
"Spirituality is a much more dynamic concept that uses many parts of the brain. Certain parts of the brain play more significant roles, but they all work together to facilitate individuals' spiritual experiences," added Johntone, the International Journal of the Psychology of Religion reports.
Johnstone studied a group of people with traumatic brain injuries affecting the right parietal lobe, the area of the brain situated a few inches above the right ear, according to a Missouri statement.
He surveyed participants on characteristics of spirituality, such as how close they felt to a higher power and if they felt their lives were part of a divine plan. He found that the participants with more significant injury to their right parietal lobe showed an increased feeling of closeness to a higher power.
"Neuropsychology researchers consistently have shown that impairment on the right side of the brain decreases one's focus on the self," Johnstone said.
"Since our research shows that people with this impairment are more spiritual, this suggests spiritual experiences are associated with a decreased focus on the self. This is consistent with many religious texts that suggest people should concentrate on the well-being of others rather than on themselves," added Johnstone.
Johnstone says the right side of the brain is linked with self-orientation, whereas the left side is tied with how individuals relate to others.