November 7, 2006

Emotional, Devotional Brain Imaging

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania took brain images of five women while they spoke in tongues and found that their frontal lobes — the thinking, willful part of the brain through which people control what they do — were relatively quiet, as were the language centers. The regions involved in maintaining self-consciousness were active. The women were not in blind trances, and it was unclear which region was driving the behavior. (article)

Ms. Morgan, a co-author of the study, was also a research subject. She is a born-again Christian who says she considers the ability to speak in tongues a gift. “You’re aware of your surroundings,” she said. “You’re not really out of control. But you have no control over what’s happening. You’re just flowing. You’re in a realm of peace and comfort, and it’s a fantastic feeling.”

I'm not quite sure how the objective nature of a study can be preserved if a co-author is also a research subject. And she seems to have mastered the law of noncontradition. How can you possibly be in control and have no control? She probably would call this something of a paradox, similiar to divine sovereignty and human responsibility, it to me just looks like a blatant contradition. Perhaps I'm biased....oh yeah, I am. :)

According to other studies, people who speak in tongues rarely suffer from mental problems. A recent study of nearly 1,000 evangelical Christians in England found that those who engaged in the practice were more emotionally stable than those who did not. Researchers have identified at least two forms of the practice, one ecstatic and frenzied, the other subdued and nearly silent.


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