Study: Brain Chemicals Key to Spiritual Experience

Lower serotonin levels make people more open to religious practices, experiences.

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"The article is misinterpreted when it tries to make the direct relationship with spirituality," said Meador, explaining that the work lacks context. "By necessity, our brain is a vital part of the fullness of our understanding and expression of religion, but it has to be interpreted. It's that contextualization that gives it any meaning."

Meador added that there is a temptation to define perceptual phenomena as spiritual.

"The problem we find with a lot of the religion and health and spirituality findings and movement is the tendency to overinterpret without rightly contextualizing and being a bit more cautious about things."

Newberg said the study was worthwhile, but agrees that more research needs to be done.

"If we can learn more about the human brain through studies of these very complex spiritual and religious experiences people have, we can understand neurobiology and psychiatry better," said Newberg. "And if there are ways we can learn more about these experiences - how they happen, what they mean - religion and spirituality can be enhanced as well."

Farde and his colleagues are currently conducting an identical study in women that will be completed in three to six months

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Frederica Saylor
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