While critics may mock, many Christians assert the validity of speaking in tongues and now they have a neuroscience study to back them up.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania took brain images of five women while they spoke in tongues and found that their frontal lobes, the thinking, willful part of the brain through which people control what they do, were relatively quiet, as were the language centers. The regions involved in maintaining self-consciousness were active. The women were not in blind trances, and it was unclear which region was driving the behavior.
The images, appearing in the current issue of the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, highlight the most active areas of the brain. The images are the first of their kind taken during this spoken religious practice, which has roots in the Old and New Testaments and in Pentecostal churches. (Emphasis added, the Dispatch)
“The amazing thing was how the images supported people’s interpretation of what was happening,” said Dr. Andrew B. Newberg, leader of the study team, which included Donna Morgan, Nancy Wintering and Mark Waldman.
“The way they describe it, and what they believe, is that God is talking through them,” he said.
Dr. Newberg is also a co-author of “Why We Believe What We Believe.”
In the study, the researchers used imaging techniques to track changes in blood flow in each woman’s brain in two conditions, once as she sang a gospel song and again while speaking in tongues. By comparing the patterns created by these two emotional, devotional activities, the researchers could pinpoint blood-flow peaks and valleys unique to speaking in tongues.