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Tongues and Brain Activity

For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.” (1 Cor 14:14, NKJV)

The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine has made a “fascinating” discovery: Brain Activity declines as subjects speak in tongues.

This research appeared in the November 2006 issue of the journal Psychiatry Research: Nueroimaging.

“Our brain imaging research shows us that these subjects are not in control of the usual language centers during this activity, which is consistent with their description of a lack of intentional control while speaking in tongues.”

The principal investigator, Dr. Andrew Newberg, an associate professor of radiology, psychiatry and religious studies stated “We noticed a number of changes that occurred functionally in the brain… Our finding of decreased activity in the frontal lobes during the practice of speaking in tongues is fascinating because these subjects truly believe the Spirit of God is moving through them and controlling them to speak. Our brain imaging research shows us that these subjects are not in control of the usual language centers during this activity, which is consistent with their description of a lack of intentional control, while speaking in tongues.”

This has been adapted from the report that appeared on UPI/TN Beliefnet (Nov 7, 2006).

Special thanks to Dr. Andrew Newberg for verifying this report, and to H. Murray Hohns for making us aware of this report.

Andrew B. Newberg, Nancy A. Wintering, Donna Morgan and Mark R. Waldman, “The measurement of regional cerebral blood flow during glossolalia: A preliminary SPECT study” Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging 148:1 (22 November 2006), pages 67-71. the-measurement-of-regional-cerebral-blood-flow-during-glossolalia-a-preliminary-spect-study.pdf [available as of Feb 27, 2017]

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Category: In Depth, Spring 2007

About the Author: Raul L. Mock is one of the founders and directors of the Pneuma Foundation and editor of The Pneuma Review. Raul has been part of an Evangelical publishing ministry since 1996, working with Information Services and Supply Chain Management for more than two decades. He and his wife, Erin, have a daughter and twin boys and live in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. LinkedIn

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