Mentally speaking in tongues

1 minute read

OK, I think it cheapens the idea of "speaking in tongues" if people can do it on command in an MRI scanner!:

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.

Well, that is an interesting counterpoint to the earlier studies of meditation. There are some details about the cultural practice of speaking in tongues -- "those who engaged in the practice were more emotionally stable than those who did not" -- and a bit about the actual brain correlates:

The scans also showed a dip in the activity of a region called the left caudate. "The findings from the frontal lobes are very clear, and make sense, but the caudate is usually active when you have positive affect, pleasure, positive emotions," said Dr. James A. Coan, a psychologist at the University of Virginia. ... [I]t may be that practitioners, while mindful of their circumstances, nonetheless cede some control over their bodies and emotions.

Well, if it's relaxing and pleasurable, and it promotes emotional stability, maybe we all should start trying it!