A scientific look at the nature of spirituality, including meditation, near death experiences, religion and altered states of consciousness.
Practicing brief sessions of Hatha yoga and mindfulness meditation can significantly improve brain function and energy levels, according to a new study.
Posted: September 6, 2017, 2:34 pm
Little fungi pack a punch: 'Magic mushrooms' of the Psilocybe species produce psychoactive compounds that alter perception when ingested. Recently, the effects on the neuronal system caused by their ingredient psilocybin have attracted the interest of pharmacologists. Scientists have now identified four of the enzymes responsible for the biosynthesis of psilocybin. Researchers describe the biosynthetic pathway and introduce a synthetic route that could form the basis of biotechnological production.
Posted: August 25, 2017, 2:39 pm
A new research article investigates the effects of yoga and meditation on people by looking at physiological and immunological markers of stress and inflammation. By studying the participants of an intensive three-month yoga and meditation retreat, the researchers found that the practices positively impacted physiological and immunological markers of stress and inflammation, and in addition improved subjective wellbeing.
Posted: August 22, 2017, 2:48 pm
A commonly proposed solution to help diffuse the political and religious polarization surrounding controversial scientific issues like evolution or climate change is education. However, researchers found that the opposite is true: people's beliefs about scientific topics that are associated with their political or religious identities actually become increasingly polarized with education, as measured by years in school, science classes, and science literacy.
Posted: August 21, 2017, 7:11 pm
People who hear voices that other people can't hear may use unusual skills when their brains process new sounds, according to new research.
Posted: August 21, 2017, 12:57 pm
People who hear voices -- both with and without a diagnosed psychotic illness -- are more sensitive than other subjects to a 125-year-old experiment designed to induce hallucinations. And the subjects' ability to learn that these hallucinations were not real may help pinpoint those in need of psychiatric treatment, suggests a new study.
Posted: August 10, 2017, 6:16 pm
The altered state of consciousness and temporary lack of ego that results from using psychedelic drugs could help some mental health patients recover from their symptoms, according to academics.
Posted: August 8, 2017, 6:54 pm
Muslim immigrants who feel marginalized and discriminated against in countries that expect them to integrate into their culture and society are more likely to experience psychological threats to their own significance that could be related to increased support of radicalism, according to new research.
Posted: August 5, 2017, 6:49 pm
When it comes to success in sports, coaches and athletes understand that there's a mental component, but many don't have an understanding of how to prepare psychologically. That's where the concept of mindfulness can be beneficial, via a program to help athletes and coaches at all levels develop that mental edge and improve their performance.
Posted: August 4, 2017, 1:13 pm
Many people in rural African communities still believe that disability is caused by supernatural forces, curses and as ‘punishment’ for wrongdoings, according to research.
Posted: August 3, 2017, 7:28 pm
Researchers found significant improvement in the quality of parenting among mothers who participated in a trauma-informed, mindfulness-based parenting intervention while also in medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder.
Posted: July 27, 2017, 5:06 pm
Two studies examine the personality characteristics that drive dogmatism in the religious and nonreligious. In both groups, higher critical reasoning skills were associated with lower levels of dogmatism. But these two groups diverge in how moral concern influences their dogmatic thinking.
Posted: July 26, 2017, 2:30 pm
New research examines how frequently and in what order different aspects of self-reported near-death-experiences occur. By analyzing written first-hand accounts of near-death-experiences, the researchers looked at whether specific aspects of these experiences tend to occur in the same order for different people. They found that even though some events are more common, and some are more likely to follow one another, near-death-experiences tend to be unique to the individual in terms of chronology.
Posted: July 26, 2017, 2:29 pm
A study of older adults finds an individual's awareness of aging is not as static as previously thought, and that day-to-day experiences and one's attitude toward aging can affect an individual's awareness of age-related change -- and how that awareness affects one's mood.
Posted: July 20, 2017, 2:31 pm
The number of Southern natives and the average education level in a county are the most influential factors on the odds of a US public school using corporal punishment, according to new research.
Posted: July 12, 2017, 6:56 pm
Religious participation is linked to lower suicide rates in many parts of the world, including the United States and Russia, but does not protect against the risk of suicide in sections of Europe and Asia, according to new research.
Posted: June 28, 2017, 2:23 pm
Research has shown that how trusting a person is may depend, at least in part, on his or her genes. However, distrust does not appear to be inherited in the same way, according to a new study.
Posted: June 20, 2017, 6:29 pm
It seems like we are hearing more and more about mindfulness-based meditation and the role it plays in stress reduction. But what exactly is mindfulness-based meditation and why is the practice getting so much attention?
Posted: June 19, 2017, 5:43 pm
Imagine walking along a beach on a lovely day. As you turn to continue along the coast path feeling calm and relaxed you suddenly hear your dentist say 'Fine, all done, you can take the headset off now'. For patients at one dental practice in Devon, England, such Virtual Reality encounters are resulting in demonstrably better experiences in the dentist's chair.
Posted: June 14, 2017, 1:18 pm
Just ten minutes of mindfulness meditation could be used as an alternative to painkillers, according to new research.
Posted: June 12, 2017, 1:46 pm
People who attend worship services live longer and have less stress, new research indicates.
Posted: June 1, 2017, 4:52 pm
Though it has gained popularity in the West as medically and psychologically beneficial, meditation can produce a much wider variety of outcomes, not all of them calm and relaxing, according to a new study that analyzes meditation-related challenges.
Posted: May 24, 2017, 6:17 pm
A new study shows mindfulness training that addresses fear and pain during childbirth can improve women's childbirth experiences and reduce their depression symptoms during pregnancy and the early postpartum period.
Posted: May 24, 2017, 5:11 pm
Living in a city could significantly increase young people's vulnerability to psychotic experiences, according to a new study.
Posted: May 23, 2017, 12:33 pm
Through targeted training, people can be guided to develop a better inner awareness about their own mental states, and to have a better understanding of the mental state of others. This helps us deal with current global challenges.
Posted: May 18, 2017, 2:40 pm
The question about why more intelligent people tend to be atheistic dates back to the times of Romans and Ancient Greeks. The link between intelligence and religion can be explained if religion is considered an instinct, and intelligence the ability to rise above one's instincts.
Posted: May 17, 2017, 2:12 pm
Using a subtle, indirect measurement technique, psychology researchers have found that there are probably a lot more atheists (people who don't believe in God) in the U.S. than show up in telephone polls.
Posted: May 16, 2017, 6:34 pm
Researchers have debunked the myth that extreme sportsmen and women are adrenalin junkies with a death wish, according to a new study.
Posted: May 9, 2017, 1:36 pm
Just 10 minutes of daily mindful mediation can help prevent your mind from wandering and is particularly effective if you tend to have repetitive, anxious thoughts, according to a study.
Posted: May 1, 2017, 1:43 pm
As new and more effective human reproductive genetic technologies develop, people of faith are more likely to disapprove of these tools than nonreligious people, a new study found.
Posted: April 25, 2017, 6:31 pm
Few studies have looked at whether mindfulness meditation is equally effective among men and women in addressing mood, but a new study in a college setting found a substantial difference.
Posted: April 20, 2017, 3:38 pm
The first semester of college is a time of great transition for many students -- they often are living away from home for the first time, have a much more fluid schedule than in high school and are potentially surrounded by a new peer group. Mindfulness training may be one way to help students successfully transition to college life, according to researchers.
Posted: April 20, 2017, 1:02 pm
Religiosity has been associated with various forms of fasting and self-starvation for thousands of years. Many believe that extreme religiosity can be a risk factor of anorexia nervosa. However, a recent population study conducted in Finland showed that religiosity does not increase the risk of anorexia nervosa.
Posted: April 11, 2017, 12:59 pm
Researchers say it may seem contradictory that a means of generalizing to people at large is used when reflecting on one's most personal and idiosyncratic experiences.
Posted: March 23, 2017, 6:14 pm
More Americans than ever are turning to spiritual, meditative and religious retreats as a way to reset their daily life and enhance well-being. Now, researchers show there are changes in the dopamine and serotonin systems in the brains of retreat participants.
Posted: March 23, 2017, 12:36 pm
Why do people pay for experiences deliberately marketed as painful? According to a new study, consumers will pay big money for extraordinary -- even painful -- experiences to offset the physical malaise resulting from today's sedentary lifestyles.
Posted: March 22, 2017, 5:21 pm
The people one dates share many similarities -- both physically and personality-wise -- a new study has found.
Posted: March 22, 2017, 1:21 pm
A relationship between epilepsy and heightened religious experiences has been recognized since at least the 19th century. In a recent study, researchers found a neurological relationship exists between religiosity -- a disposition for spiritual experience and religious activity -- and epilepsy. This finding sheds light on the connection between religion and neuropsychological processes within the human brain.
Posted: March 8, 2017, 6:11 pm
By analyzing how peoples' religious practice correlates with their social support networks in two villages in South India, a researcher proposes an evolutionary benefit to religious participation.
Posted: March 6, 2017, 4:42 pm
Emotions are not innately programmed into our brains, but, in fact, are cognitive states resulting from the gathering of information, researchers conclude.
Posted: February 15, 2017, 5:11 pm
We love to tell friends and family about experiences we've had and they haven't -- from exotic vacations to celebrity sightings -- but new research suggests that these stories don't thrill them quite as much as we imagine. A series of studies shows that both speakers and listeners expect novel stories to be bigger crowd pleasers, but that listeners end up enjoying familiar stories more.
Posted: February 14, 2017, 2:27 pm
Researchers have discovered a reason why we often struggle to remember the smaller details of past experiences.
Posted: February 14, 2017, 2:26 pm
A new study finds a wide range of subtle but measurable tendencies in the thinking of people who would rather snatch a quick reward than wait for a bigger one.
Posted: February 1, 2017, 2:26 pm
We all have particular experiences or particular things -- a favorite song, for example -- that mean much more to us than others. Now, researchers who've studied how perceptions of meaning change when people take the psychedelic drug known as LSD have traced that sense of meaningfulness to particular neurochemicals and receptors in the brain.
Posted: January 26, 2017, 6:25 pm
Mindfulness meditation is an increasingly popular treatment for anxiety, but testing its effectiveness in a convincing way has been difficult. Now a rigorously designed, clinical trial has found objective physiological evidence that mindfulness meditation combats anxiety.
Posted: January 24, 2017, 4:13 pm
In a recent study of adults with early memory loss, scientists found that practice of a simple meditation or music listening program may have multiple benefits for older adults with preclinical memory loss.
Posted: January 22, 2017, 12:08 am
Americans who are more involved in religious congregations are less likely to own handguns, according to a new study.
Posted: January 17, 2017, 3:22 pm
In a survey of almost 2,000 people who said they had had a past negative experience when taking psilocybin-containing 'magic mushrooms,' a researchers say that more than 10 percent believed their worst 'bad trip' had put themselves or others in harm's way, and a substantial majority called their most distressing episode one of the top 10 biggest challenges of their lives.
Posted: December 30, 2016, 11:06 pm
Emotional experiences can induce physiological and internal brain states that persist for long periods of time after the emotional events have ended, a team of scientists has found.
Posted: December 27, 2016, 2:12 am
Wanting to squash not-so-great memories is human nature, but is it possible to intentionally forget a traumatic experience?
Posted: December 9, 2016, 1:11 pm
Fear of confronting the tensions and conflicts brought on by existential concerns—the “big questions” of life—is linked with poorer mental health, including higher levels of depression, anxiety and difficulty regulating emotions, according to a new study.
Posted: December 5, 2016, 4:10 pm
A substantial majority of people suffering cancer-related anxiety or depression found considerable relief for up to six months from a single large dose of psilocybin -- the active compound in hallucinogenic "magic mushrooms" -- researchers report after a small double-blind study.
Posted: December 1, 2016, 2:44 pm
Religious and spiritual experiences activate the brain reward circuits in much the same way as love, sex, gambling, drugs and music, report researchers.
Posted: November 29, 2016, 1:50 pm
The third annual Chapman University Survey of American Fears (2016) has been released by researchers. The survey asked respondents about 65 fears across a broad range of categories including fears about the government, crime, the environment, the future, technology, health, natural disasters, as well as fears of public speaking, spiders, heights, ghosts and many other personal anxieties. In addition to the set of fears examined in previous waves, the survey team took a closer look at two fear related phenomena: Americans' beliefs in conspiracy theories and fear of Muslims, sometimes referred to as "Islamophobia."
Posted: October 12, 2016, 8:00 pm
Meditation can help tame your emotions even if you're not a mindful person, suggests a new study. Psychology researchers recorded the brain activity of people looking at disturbing pictures immediately after meditating for the first time. These participants were able to tame their negative emotions just as well as participants who were naturally mindful.
Posted: October 3, 2016, 4:07 pm
Oxytocin has been dubbed the "love hormone" for its role promoting social bonding, altruism and more. Now new research suggests the hormone may also support spirituality.
Posted: September 21, 2016, 12:54 pm
Posting personal experiences on social media makes those events much easier to recall, a new study -- the first to look at social media's effect on memory -- has found
Posted: September 7, 2016, 6:32 pm
New research examines whether or not, and to what extent, a combination of spiritual meditation and migraine medication affects analgesic medication usage.
Posted: September 2, 2016, 4:53 pm
Scientists used a rigorous study design to assess the biological impact of meditation compared to vacation. The researchers found that a resort vacation provides a strong and immediate impact on molecular networks associated with stress and immune pathways, in addition to short-term improvements in well-being, as measured by feelings of vitality and distress. A meditation retreat, for those who already used meditation regularly, was associated with molecular networks characterized by antiviral activity. The molecular signature of long-term meditators was distinct from the non-meditating vacationers.
Posted: August 30, 2016, 1:18 pm
In a first-of-its kind study, researchers found that active learning classrooms, which require more group work than traditional lecture courses, may create an unaccepting atmosphere for LGBTQIA students.
Posted: August 26, 2016, 2:48 pm