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Effect of 'God' on the Brain

Date: 03-12-11
Host: Ian Punnett
Guests: Dr. Andrew Newberg, Patrick Hammer, James Chiles

Ian Punnett welcomed neuroscientist Andrew Newberg for a discussion on how contemplating 'God', whatever that may mean to a given individual, affects brain activity. Several different parts of the brain are triggered when a person thinks about spiritual ideas, Newberg said, adding that the more one believes in what he is praying to or meditating on, the stronger the response. Scans show increased activity in the frontal lobe, decreased activity in the parietal lobe, and the emotional areas of the brain are switched on, he explained. This does not occur when an atheist thinks about God, he noted.

"Our beliefs, in general, are extraordinarily important in how we do in life," Newberg continued. Research shows that people who embrace positive spiritual concepts are more resilient, optimistic, and compassionate, he said. There are, however, negative consequences for the religious who struggle with their beliefs or become angry at God. According to Newberg, such thoughts foster negative emotions, prompt the release of stress hormones, and have an actual physically damaging effect on the human body. Newberg also spoke about how people perceive the appearance of God. The most common drawings show God as an abstract or nature scene, not as the classic anthropomorphic bearded man in the clouds, he reported.

Fallout Projections & Meltdown Threat

In the first hour, meteorologist Patrick Hamme estimated how radioactive fallout could potentially spread from the damaged Japanese nuclear power plant. According to Hammer, upper-level winds would likely carry any contaminated airborne particles to a sparsely populated part of Russia. Next, researcher James Chiles briefly addressed a worst case scenario should the plant's primary containment structure fail to contain the overheating/melting fuel rods within it. Chiles suggested this danger has probably passed.

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Bumper Music

Bumper music from Saturday March 12, 2011

  • Time Warp
    Rocky Horror Picture Show Soundtrack

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