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Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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New Sponsors @ 2012 SharpBrains Summit: Bracket, Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation

We are proud to announce two new Spon­sors 2012 Sharp­Brains Vir­tual Sum­mit: Opti­miz­ing Health through Neu­ro­plas­tic­ity, Inno­va­tion and Data (June 7–14th, 2012):  Read the rest of this entry »

Six New Speakers @ 2011 SharpBrains Summit

We are proud to con­firm six addi­tion­al excel­lent Speak­ers at the upcom­ing 2011 Sharp­Brains Sum­mit (remem­ber, this is a ful­ly vir­tu­al event so it requires no trav­el). Three Speak­ers are based in the US, two in the UK, one in Aus­tralia, and they tru­ly rep­re­sent a range of per­spec­tives and exper­tise to dis­cuss, as the Sum­mit tagline promis­es, Retool­ing Brain Health for the 21st Cen­tu­ry. Read the rest of this entry »

Announcing Sponsors and Partners: 2011 SharpBrains Summit

We are hon­ored to announce the fol­low­ing Spon­sors and Part­ners of the upcom­ing 2011 Sharp­Brains Sum­mit: Retool­ing Brain Health for the 21st Cen­tu­ry (March 30th — April 1st, 2011). And we are look­ing for more, so please con­tact us if inter­est­ed! Read the rest of this entry »

Meditation on the Brain: a Conversation with Andrew Newberg

Dr_Andrew_NewbergDr. Andrew New­berg is an Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor in the Depart­ment of Radi­ol­o­gy and Psy­chi­a­try and Adjunct Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor in the Depart­ment of Reli­gious Stud­ies at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia. He has pub­lished a vari­ety of neu­roimag­ing stud­ies relat­ed to aging and demen­tia. He has also researched the neu­ro­phys­i­o­log­i­cal cor­re­lates of med­i­ta­tion, prayer, and how brain func­tion is asso­ci­at­ed with mys­ti­cal and reli­gious expe­ri­ences. Alvaro Fer­nan­dez inter­views him here as part of our research for the book The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness: How to Opti­mize Brain Health and Per­for­mance at Any Age.

Dr. New­berg, thank you for being with us today. Can you please explain the source of your inter­ests at the inter­sec­tion of brain research and spir­i­tu­al­i­ty?

Since I was a kid, I had a keen inter­est in spir­i­tu­al prac­tice. I always won­dered how spir­i­tu­al­i­ty and reli­gion affect us, and over time I came to appre­ci­ate how sci­ence can help us explore and under­stand the world around us, includ­ing why we humans care about spir­i­tu­al prac­tices. This, of course, led me to be par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ed in brain research.

Dur­ing med­ical school I was par­tic­u­lar­ly attract­ed by the prob­lem of con­scious­ness. I was for­tu­nate to meet researcher Dr. Eugene D’Aquili in the ear­ly 1990s, who had been doing much research on reli­gious prac­tices effect on brain since the 1970s. Through him I came to see that brain imag­ing can pro­vide a fas­ci­nat­ing win­dow into the brain.

Can we define reli­gion and spir­i­tu­al­i­ty -which sound to me as very dif­fer­ent brain process­es-, and why learn­ing about them may be help­ful from a pure­ly sec­u­lar, sci­en­tif­ic point of view?

Good point, def­i­n­i­tions mat­ter, since dif­fer­ent peo­ple may be search­ing for God in dif­fer­ent ways. I view being reli­gious as par­tic­i­pat­ing in orga­nized rit­u­als and shared beliefs, such as going to church. Being spir­i­tu­al, on the oth­er hand, is more of an indi­vid­ual prac­tice, whether we call it med­i­ta­tion, or relax­ation, or prayer, aimed at expand­ing the self, devel­op­ing a sense of one­ness with the uni­verse.

What is hap­pen­ing is that spe­cif­ic prac­tices that have tra­di­tion­al­ly been asso­ci­at­ed with reli­gious and spir­i­tu­al con­texts may also be very use­ful from a main­stream, sec­u­lar, health point of view, beyond those con­texts. Sci­en­tists are research­ing, for exam­ple, what Read the rest of this entry »

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