Scientists Study Speaking in Tongues

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that there may be a neurological parallel between what worshippers believe about the speaking-in-tongues experience and what actually transpires in the brain, The New York Times reported.

Scientists took brain images from five healthy, active, churchgoing women as they were speaking in tongues and as they were singing. Comparing the two images, the researchers discovered that the women’s frontal lobes—the willful, thinking part of the brain—were quiet, as were the language centers, indicating something else was in control, the Times reported.

“The amazing thing was how the images supported people’s interpretation of what was happening,” said Dr. Andrew B. Newberg, the lead researcher and director of the university’s Center for Spirituality and the Mind. “The way they describe it, and what they believe, is that God is talking through them.”

Scans of people practicing meditation differed sharply. Newberg found that during meditation the frontal lobe was more active. The findings were published in the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging.

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