The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a clinical trial using a neuroimaging helmet made by Los Angeles-based Kernel to track what happens in the brain when a human takes a psychedelic dose of ketamine. [Read more…] about FDA-approved, Cybin-sponsored clinicial trial to measure ketamine’s impact on the brain via Kernel Flow neuroimaging helmet
“Ancient Greek philosophers were fond of the aphorism, “know thyself,” inscribed above the entrance of one of the Temples of Apollo at Delphi. One expression of this tradition, variably attributed to Socrates and Plato, is that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Another, attributed to Aristotle, is “to know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” And, according to Socrates, the path to such self-knowledge is through inner reflection, or what we now call introspection.
Thousands of years later, professions arose to help people know themselves better [Read more…] about From Mental Health to Behavioral Health…and back?
“For the first time, scientists have detected a giant neuron wrapped around the entire circumference of a mouse’s brain, and it’s so densely connected across both hemispheres, it could finally explain the origins of consciousness. [Read more…] about New brain imaging methods help detect giant, superconnected neurons such as this one (in a mouse’s brain)
The neuroscience of language, consciousness, and communication raises many fundamental questions, the answers to which consistently defy definition. For example: when we speak, where do our words come from? Our brain, or our mind? And what do we mean by mind? Similar dilemmas arise when we try to study the nature of consciousness. What is it, and where is it? Is it generated solely by neural activity, or is it a separate force that influences the activity of the brain? Hypotheses abound, but nobody seems to know for certain.
However, we do have a few clues that illuminate the relationship between the brain, the mind, and [Read more…] about How Do Words, such as Yes and No, Change Our Brains and Lives?
Dr. 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 more…] about Meditation on the Brain: a Conversation with Andrew Newberg