Neurotheology – Brain science, Spirituality and Religion


Neurotheology is the study of the brain’s role in religion and mysticism.

Spirituality &
The Brain (Home Page)
Other pages on this site:
The God Helmet
Psychic Technology
Deja Vu
Living in Gratitude
Spiritual Coaching
– Crises
– Guidance
– Learning
– More
Darwinian Reincarnation
Romantic Love and the Brain
Origins of spirituality in Human Evolution
Shakti – Magnetic Brain Stimulation
Sacred Lands
“The Sensed Presence”
For Enhanced Visual Acuity
God in the Brain
Spiritual Aptitude Test
Stimulating My Brain
As A Spiritual Path
Inventing Shakti
Sex & States of Conscious-ness
Evolution and The Gay Male Brain
The Spiritual Personality
The Buddha’s Brain.
A Diet For Epileptics?
Odd Experiences – Online Poll Results
Body Experiences
Near-Death Experiences – Thai Case histories
The Big Bang
Meditations from Brain Science
Near-Death Experience in Thailand – Case Histories
The Terrorist Brain
Hippocrates on Epilepsy
Contact Us

The neuroscience of God, enlightenment, out-of-body experiences, Deja Vu, near-death experiences, and how spirituality is part of what makes us human.  This field is sometime called neurotheology.

Whether God is in the brain or works through the brain, the power of prayer still lies in the human mind. Meditation works by making changes in both the brain and the mind. This idea has created a new science called neurotheology by several authors and journalists, though it’s really the behavioral neuroscience of religion, mysticism, and spirituality.

My approach is different from others in this field, like Andrew Newberg or Mario Beauregard. I believe that the theory of evolution is the most important concept in understanding why the brain keeps spiritual experiences and beliefs in its repertoire. To truly understand our ‘spiritual brain’, we have to think about how it evolved. We also need to look at how spirituality and religion helped us survive at the dawn of humanity, by making changes in the brain.  It invites a new phrase:  Evolutionary neurotheology.

Video Lectures on Neurotheology.
A nine-hour lecture series on the brain’s role in religious an mystic experiences. Subjects include God, enlightenment, rebirth, psychic skills, the sacred body, practical neurotheology, some interviews, presentations, and more.

The Role of Mystics and mysticism in Human Evolution (An evolutionary hypothesis for neurotheology).
Our populations consistently produce a percentage of people who experience profound altered states, imposing behavior patterns that offered benefits to our social groups early in our evolutionary history. This is
a simplified version of a journal publication.

The Ancient Way of Gratitude
Looking at gratitude in the context of tribal living, our natural way of life; the one we evolved in. It’s better to receive gratitude than to give it, so it’s better to give than to receive.

This essay discusses what may have happened to the Buddha’s brain the night of his enlightenment.  An example of forensic neurotheology.

Darwinian Reincarnation
The idea of rebirth takes an important step towards science when it is integrated with Darwin’s Theory. Learning from past lives confers an important advantage in complex cultures, and the human death-process, made explicit in Near-Death Experiences, serves this end. Reincarnation was an evolutionary adaptation that contributed to the survival of our species.

The Origins of Spirituality in Human Evolution.
When Humans acquired language, we began to think about death in some very new ways. This created a new feeling of being threatened whose source lay in our own thoughts. People responded to this new threat by finding a sense of spirituality that allowed us to come to terms with our mortality.

About the God Helmet.
This article discusses the Koren Helmet, often called the “God Helmet”. Some ‘straight dope’ about a misunderstood technology. (Opens in a new Window).

An Atheist in Defense of Religion.
Belief in God is a wholesome, adaptive force that contributed to our survival. Its an intrinsic part of the human species, and part of our survival strategy.  Religion encourages people to be kind to each other, and that helps us to live and thrive together.

God Helmet Effects independently replicated
by a group of Brazilian researchers in a 2014 Publication. Using equipment very similar to Dr. Michael Persinger’s, they measured significant differences in the speech of subjects and controls, replicating one of Persinger’s early experiments. Here’s a discussion about this.

Spiritual Aptitude Test
Read about subtle altered states (like deja vu), and what they say about your spiritual aptitudes.

The ‘Sensed Presence.’
Understanding the feeling that there is someone behind you when you’re actually alone is an important starting point in our approach to neurotheology. It’s a subtle manifestation of the sense we use to feel the presence of ghosts, spirits, angels and even God.

The direct experience of God is one of the highest mystical states a person can achieve. If there is a God to be experienced, then like everything else we perceive, God must appear through our brains. This article owes a debt to Michael Persinger’s book, “Neuropsychological Bases of God-Beliefs”.

A dialog in Neurotheology.
An email discussion about how we should view information from traditional religions.

Evolution of God
An article based on a lecture given in March 2005 at the Winchester “Art & Mind” festival. Easier reading.

The (Shiva) God Helmet
Dr. Persinger’s famous magnetic brain stimulation technology that induces spiritual experiences in the laboratory is available in a PC-based version.

Validating New Technologies to Treat Depression, Pain and the Feeling of Sentient Beings: A Reply to “Neuroscience for the Soul”
Persinger points out that some of his critics object to opinions and beliefs mistakenly ascribed to him. For example, he doesn’t believe that religious belief is an epileptic phenomenon, and his theories are not based on religiousness in epileptics. Read this if you like keeping up with developments in this field. (Technical Article – Opens in a new Window)

Healing through Reiki, Chi, Healing by laying on hands.
Brain-to-Brain Connections, Chi, Reiki and “laying on hands”
Spiritual healing may work by passing information from the healer’s brain to the client’s brain. Healing hands may actually be healing brains.


Out of Body Experiences
A 2002 study by Dr. Olaf Blanke has implicated the Angular Gyrus, (an area on the surface of the brain) in out-of-body experiences. This article replies to that study to the effect that there are other areas in the brain that may be involved. If researchers take Dr. Blanke’s interpretation of his results at face value, they may miss other avenues of inquiry.

Guided Spiritual Exercises from Brain Science
Simple guided imaginative exercises that often have immediate results.  A little practical neurotheology.

The Spiritual Personality.
Doing spiritual practice (or having a spiritual awakening), has an impact on the brain, the mind, and personality. These changes happen are pretty easy to predict. The altered states of consciousness experienced through spirituality create some interesting ‘traits’.

Deja Vu
Deja vu is one of the most common spiritual experiences known. That is, if you enjoy it. If you don’t, its more a matter for the right kind of doctor than a temple. Deja vu is a change in the perception of the present moment, and it can be used to enhance some meditation practices, like Zen, that emphasize the ‘here and now’.

The Neurology of Romantic Love.
In many ways, romantic love looks similar to devotional religious feelings, and its disappointments look very much like ‘The Dark Night of the Soul’. Neuroscience for the hopeless romantic.

Stimulating My Brain As a Spiritual Path.
Here’s my story, more or less. When its finished, you’ll find that I accept many of the things that psychics, gurus, and religions teach, but in very different forms.

We might be more likely to see the archetypes in others than in ourselves. Evolution may have provided us with some hard-wiring that allows us to see them in others, giving us an almost instinctive feeling for how to relate with different types of people.

Sacred Lands
A look at Harbin Hot Springs, a spiritual resort and retreat center in Northern California, that’s also in one of the most geologically active places in the world. Geomagnetic changes interact with magnetic processes in the brain, producing ‘power spots’ where it takes extra awareness just to get by.

Where does the phenomena of conscious awareness come from? This hypothesis suggests that consciousness functions to mediate states of consciousness. Simple answer for a vexing question. Not easy reading.

“I would kill in God’s name” What do people willing to be violent for God have in common? And just how different is a religious extremist from an ordinary religious believer?

Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) in Thailand.
The experience of dying is different in different cultures, and Thai NDEs provide one of the best examples of culture-specific ‘altered state’ experiences uncovered so far.

Thai Near-Death Experiences in Context.
This article discusses how Thai NDEs make sense when looked at in terms of their cultural and religious context. An article accepted for publication by the Journal of Near-Death studies was edited from this study.

Sex and States of Consciousness.
Too much drive? Too little? This article may explain why.

Glasses for Enhanced Visual Acuity.
About a pair of glasses that induces a stunning enhancement in vision. If you have ever had moments where you were seeing as though your eyes had been polished from the inside, and wondered if it was possible to re-capture those moments, you should read this.

Inventing Shakti A non-technical article about how Shakti was invented.

Book: Deja Vu and other spiritual gifts.New Book:  Déjà Vu & Other Spiritual Gifts (Click to see on

By Neuroscientist Todd Murphy

Déjà Vu is a spiritual gift, and there are others waiting  for you in the same place – your brain and mind.  If you have Déjà Vu often, then you probably also have other gifts, like sensing presences when you’re alone, or tingling in your hands.  It also gives simple instructions about how to open your psychic “sight”, go deeper into prayer, learn to heal by laying on hands, and other skills that use your spiritual gifts.

Available on

Sacred Pathways: The Brain’s Role In Religious and Mystic ExperiencesSacred Pathways: The Brain’s Role In Religious and Mystic Experiences

By Todd Murphy
Foreword by H.H. the Dalai Lama
Foreword by Dr. Michael A. Persinger.
506 pages, paperback

Order HERE

“Sacred Pathways is the Principia (“book of basic principles” or “first work”) of the scientific investigation of spiritual experiences. … Individuals who appoint themselves protectors of “true knowledge” may find this book disquieting.” – Dr. M.A. Persinger

“In this book, Professor Todd Murphy recounts what he has discovered about the brain’s role in religious and mystic experience; findings that interested readers will no doubt find illuminating” – H.H. The Dalai Lama

Spiritual Aptitude Test

Neurotheology Definition

Links to pages about Michael A. Persinger

Media Articles (on other websites – open in new windows):

“The God Helmet”

“Your Brain on God”

“God on the Brain”

“Ghosts in a machine”

Interview (w/ TR Murphy)

Discussions with the Author
Would you like to have a discussion with the author of these articles? A series of ‘podcasts’, emphasizing spirituality, is being prepared for this site based on interviews and question-and-answer discussions on a wide range of themes. If you would like to have a (recorded) conversation on any of the subjects on this site (or any other you think is appropriate) Click here to fill out a request form.

Other themes:

Being Investigated by the FDA
The FDA requires pre-marketing approval for all devices promoted for medical use. I learned that medical use even includes research proposals. The investigation consisted of a letter from them, and my reply to them. No action was taken.

Assorted Neurotheology Links (Open in new Windows):


Todd Murphy’s WordPress site (polemics, announcements, etc)


New research supports Persinger’s findings.


Searchable Archive of Papers by Dr. M.A. Persinger (over 500 publications).


Reply to Gendle & McGrath’s paper on the 8 Coil Shakti.


Comment on 2014 Swiss research on the Sensed Presence.


Comment on recent partial replication of the God Helmet’s effects.
(Replication of one of Persinger’s experiments)

Persinger replies to his early critics.
(From 1999)

Paranormal Studies (a bibliography)


Granqvist attempt to replicate Persinger research has several serious flaws


The tectonic strain theory of paranormal and UFO events (a rigorous
explanation of Persinger’s explanation for UFOS, ghosts and apparitions.)


3-Day Geomagnetic forecasts


Brief reply to Christopher French’s “Haunted
Room” experiment.
(About the methodology)


Online review of the Shiva Neural Stimulation System


Persinger Publications

Dr. M.A Persinger On magnetism and the brain – YouTube

Interview 1

Interview 2

Interview 3

Persinger on eliciting fragments of Near-death Experiences

No More Secrets

Psychotropic Drugs

Blogs by Dr. Michael A. Persinger on the God Helmet (and other subjects).

The God Helmet’s Weak Fields are Sufficient to Influence Brain Activity.

We Do Not Allow Suggestion or Suggestibility to Influence our Lab Results.

Our results can’t be attributed to suggestion.

God Helmet and many other of our results have been replicated.

God Helmet Experiments use Blind Protocols and Placebo Controls.

Replications of our work on Geomagnetism and Paranormal Phenomena.

The Tectonic Strain Theory and French’s “Haunted Room” Experiment

Richard Dawkins: Alcohol and the God Helmet don’t mix.

My theories are not based on religiousness in epileptics.

Religious belief is not an epileptic phenomenon.

Other Pages On This Site:



The God Helmet   |   Shiva Psychic Technology
Shakti – Magnetic Brain Stimulation 
Inventing Shakti
Stimulating My Brain As A Spiritual Path


 Origins of spirituality in Human Evolution
Role of Mystics and mysticism in Human Evolution.
The Gay Male Brain in human evolution 
The Evolution of Human Belief in God
 Consciousness  |   Darwinian Reincarnation


Articles on neurotheology, (or – spirituality and religion meet brain science).
Enlightenment And the Brain
 Deja Vu  |   Meditations from Brain Science
Romantic Love and the Brain
 The Sensed Presence  |  God in the Brain
 Spiritual Aptitude Test  |   Sacred Lands
The Spiritual Personality  |   Archetypes  
Out-Of-Body Experiences  |   Visions
Odd Experiences – Online Poll Results
Podcasts on Neurotheology


Different spiritual practices have different effects on the brain.  


NDEs in Thailand – Discussion    |   Thai NDE Case histories 
 Darwinian Reincarnation
Near-Death Experience Screensaver (Entering the Light).
Epilepsy And Near-Death Experiences


Glasses For Enhanced Visual Acuity
A Diet For Epileptics?
Sex & States of Consciousness 
Hippocrates on Epilepsy
 The Terrorist Brain


Real-Time Geomagnetic levels
What Caused The Big Bang?