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The field of neuroscience and religion continues to explode as researchers seek to understand religious experiences in the brain. Studies in religious experience, called neurotheology, attempt to draw conclusions about the truth of these religious experiences from the study of biological brain events. Given the substantial research on the science of religion, this article explores the physiological changes of college students engaged in regular spiritual practices. Students were asked to engage in intentional spiritual formational practices, such as prayer, meditation, Scripture reading, and contemplation, to see if these practices impacted their physiological activities, including brain wave, heart rate, skin response (sweat), and reaction time changes. A variety of neuropsychological measures such as the Beck Depression Inventory, State/Trait Anxiety Scale, heart beats per minute, galvanic skin response, and electrophysiological encephalography measures were gathered at the beginning and the end of the course to measure physiological activity. The purpose was to discover whether students’ physiological measures changed as a result of spiritual formation practices. This study has implications for Christian educators: As persons engage in regular contemplative practices, this can result in behavioral changes in the brain.


Originally published in Christian Education Journal: Research on Educational Ministry, 15 issue: 1, page(s): 6-20.