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Monday, April 06, 2009

New book watch: Newberg and Waldman's How God Changes Your Brain

This from a Washington Post review by Wray Herbert (March 29, 2009) of Andrew Newberg and Robert Mark Waldman's new book, How God Changes Your Brain:

Newberg, a neuroscientist and memory expert, has a special interest in spirituality; he has scanned the brains of worshipers ranging from Franciscan nuns to Pentecostals speaking in tongues. So why was he bothering with Gus?

Well, Newberg explains in "How God Changes Your Brain," his studies (with coauthor Mark Robert Waldman) had convinced him of a link between spirituality and cognitive health: The neurochemical changes that he observed during meditation and prayer appeared to improve brain function. But Newberg had studied mostly devotees with years of spiritual training; he wanted to see whether a novice might benefit, too. Newberg, a neuroscientist and memory expert, has a special interest in spirituality; he has scanned the brains of worshipers ranging from Franciscan nuns to Pentecostals speaking in tongues. So why was he bothering with Gus? Well, Newberg explains in "How God Changes Your Brain," his studies (with coauthor Mark Robert Waldman) had convinced him of a link between spirituality and cognitive health: The neurochemical changes that he observed during meditation and prayer appeared to improve brain function. But Newberg had studied mostly devotees with years of spiritual training; he wanted to see whether a novice might benefit, too.

Gus, a Philadelphia mechanic, experienced failing memory, and sought help ... .

He got help, via Hindu spirituality. I am glad. However, I wonder whether failing memory is primarily a spiritual problem.



I suspect that any set of intellectual exercises - consistently pursued - will help many patients. But we shall see. It's a young field yet.





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