The Big Idea: Prayer triggers brain rewards

A spiritual feeling of being relaxed, centered, reassured and grounded that many people of faith describe may now be supported by science. Dr. Jeffrey Anderson of the University of Utah conducted a research study with a group of devout Mormons. They agreed to have their brains scanned with MRI machines while they were watching videos or reading about spiritual things. They talked about feelings of peace and physical sensations of warmth. Researchers said some were in tears by the end of the scan. The regions of the brain that lit up were part of the reward circuit of the brain.

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