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On tongues and brains

To add to all the other effects-of-faith-and-religious-experiences-on-the-brain studies out there, BeliefNet reports on a University of Pennsylvania “first-of-its-kind study” in which U.S. scientists have observed decreased brain function in the frontal lobes when people are speaking in tongues (otherwise known as glossolalia).

"Our brain imaging research shows us that these subjects are not in control of the usual language centers during this activity, which is consistent with their description of a lack of intentional control while speaking in tongues" adds principal investigator, Dr. Andrew Newberg in the article.

You can read the Penn Medicine news release here, which reports that the study, set for publication in the November issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, can now be accessed on-line at The article is titled, “The Measurement of Regional Cerebral Blood Flow During Glossolalia: a Preliminary SPECT Study.” I found it here, but you need to either pay for it or have a user name to access it.

(Image: by Gaetan Lee at flickr)


Mark Waldman said…
If you want to read a great 30 page description of the "Speaking in Tongues" paper in plain english, go to and look up Newberg's new book, "Why We Believe What We Believe," which devotes a whole chapter to this study. You'll also find Newberg's brainscan study with nuns, and with an atheist who attempts to pray to God.