Behind the Brilliance 121: Andrew Newberg on how God changes your brain


This episode is a spiritual nerd’s dream come true. I sat down with Dr. Andrew Newberg to talk about how meditation, prayer, and religion change your brain. As a researcher, he’s a pioneer in the neurotheology. We discuss how he got his start, what he’s found in his research, and how all of these findings apply to people like me and you.

Let me know what you thought of this episode – did you learn anything interesting?: @lisanicolebell



Andrew Newberg | Neurobiology Researcher + Author, How God Changes Your Brain

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Dr. Andrew Newberg is the director of research at the Jefferson Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine and a physician at Jefferson University Hospital. He is board certified in internal medicine and nuclear medicine.

Andrew has been asking questions about reality, truth, and God since he was very young, and he has long been fascinated by the human mind and its complex workings. While a medical student, he met Dr. Eugene d’Aquili, who was studying religious experiences. Combining their interests with Andrew’s background in neuroscience and brain imaging, they were able to break new theoretical and empirical ground on the relationship between the brain and religion.

Andrew’s research now largely focuses on how brain function is associated with various mental states—in particular, religious and mystical experiences. His research has included brain scans of people in prayer, meditation, rituals, and trance states, as well as surveys of people’s spiritual experiences and attitudes. He has also evaluated the relationship between religious or spiritual phenomena and health, and the effect of meditation on memory. He believes that it is important to keep science rigorous and religion religious.

Andrew has also used neuroimaging research projects to study aging and dementia, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, depression, and other neurological and psychiatric disorders.

TOPICS COVERED (partial list)

-what the heck “neurotheology” is

-the impact of religion on health and longevity

-Andrew’s advice to newbie meditators

-the power of yawning

-the practical value of optimism

-the measurable effects of faith

-and much more

STUFF MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE (clickable links below)

Andrew’s Site 

Andrew’s Book, How God Changes Your Brain 

The Taxonomy of Meditation Practices

The Metaphysical Mind

Descartes Meditations on First Philosophy