If you’ve ever wanted to know what meditation and prayer do to the brain, then do we have the How God Changes the Brain and no theology show for you.

Today I’ll be talking with Best-Selling author, Dr. Andrew Newberg from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, a pioneer in the neurological study of religious and spiritual experiences known as Neuro-Theology, and co-author of several of my all-time favorite books on the brain, including “How God Changes the Brain” and “Neurotheology

And that’s just what I want to talk with him about today, about breakthrough findings on science, spirituality, and the brain, and what it means for you.





Dr. Andrew Newberg is the director of research at the Marcus Institute of Integrative Health 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.


Dr. Andrew Newberg Online: Website

Key Points Discussed:

  • Based on the latest brain science, are religious people crazy? (03:15)
  • Interesting studies around consciousness and whether it can extend beyond the brain. (04:35)
  • The AWARE study and the common elements of near-death experiences. (05:50)
  • The differences between an atheist’s brain and a nun’s brain. (08:42)
  • Is there one part of our brain involved in our religious and spiritual experiences? (11:38)
  • What’s the happy prison of the brain? (15:56)
  • The brain’s primary job in helping us survive by giving us a perspective of reality that works. (19:48)
  • Learning how to appreciate what other people say and believe in a world with 7 Billion people. (22:00)
  • How meditation can help us appreciate other people’s views by enabling us to be in a more relaxed and attentive state? (25:08)
  • Thinking about God and how it changes the brain by strengthening a unique neurocircuit that specifically enhances social awareness and empathy while subduing destructive feeling and emotions. (27:56)
  • The possibility of carving new grooves of compassion and empathy by training our brains to focus on love and oneness. (31:10)
  • Developing a common goal of assisting each other in achieving spiritual enlightenment. (34:31)
  • How a meditation practice can change the brain over time? (38:10)
  • The role of Ayahuasca and other compounds in helping people achieve certain spiritual states. (41:39)
  • Neurotheological studies on wearing glasses on the brain to change the way we see the world. (47:00)
  • A powerful way for the human body and brain to feel grounded and connect with the world. (49:15)
  • Brazilian channelers and what happens to their brains as they go into resonance with something else as they do their automatic writing. (51:55)
  • How long term meditators have thicker brains and so much more? (56:42)
  • Increasing our chances of better changing our brains by doing deliberate practice during our meditation. (58:55)
  • What do you think happens to the brain during the practice of watching the news? (01:00:04)
  • Dr. Andrew’s findings on the junk DNA and what he learned about the Rabbi and the brain. (01:01:49)
  • What are your thoughts on a global consciousness or a connection between all of us? (01:05:44)

Related Podcasts:

INSPIRE #506: HOW SPIRITUALITY CHANGES THE BRAIN!!! (Dr. Andrew Newberg, “How Enlightenment Changes Your Brain”)

INSPIRE #740: HOW TO PLANT POSITIVE KARMA SEEDS AND CHANGE YOUR LIFE!!! + Meditation (Sarahni Stumpf, “The Puppy, The Pen & The Chew Toy”)


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