Support for a neuropsychological model of spirituality in persons with traumatic brain injury

Zygon 43 (4):861-874 (2008)
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Abstract

Recent research suggests that spiritual experiences are related to increased physiological activity of the frontal and temporal lobes and decreased activity of the right parietal lobe. The current study determined if similar relationships exist between self-reported spirituality and neuropsychological abilities associated with those cerebral structures for persons with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Participants included 26 adults with TBI referred for neuropsychological assessment. Measures included the Core Index of Spirituality (INSPIRIT); neuropsychological indices of cerebral structures: temporal lobes (Wechsler Memory Scale-III), right parietal lobe (Judgment of Line Orientation), and frontal lobes (Trail Making Test, Controlled Oral Word Association Test). As hypothesized, spirituality was significantly negatively correlated with a measure of right parietal lobe functioning and positively correlated (nonsignificantly) with measures of left temporal lobe functioning. Contrary to hypotheses, correlations between spirituality and measures of frontal lobe functioning were zero or negative (and nonsignificant). The data support a neuropsychological model that proposes that spiritual experiences are related to decreased activity of the right parietal lobe, which may be associated with decreased awareness of the self (transcendence) and increased activity of the left temporal lobe, which may be associated with the experience of specific religious archetypes (religious figures and symbols).

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