A new study of channelers has found that areas of the brain associated with language and activity close down when they are engaged in channeling. This means that the part of the brain that forms words is not in use during the channeling process, lending credibility to the notion that they are obtaining the words that they are speaking or writing down from an unknown source that is either in the brain, or is outside of the individual altogether.

During a trance-like session of psychography, experienced mediums in Brazil allow themselves to become receptive to spirits or dead souls. Then they write automatically, channeling the voices of those they believe to be speaking to them.

In the study, 10 mediums–five less expert and five experience–were injected with a radioactive tracer to capture their brain activity during normal writing and during the practice of psychography which involves the subject entering a trance-like state. The subjects were scanned using SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) to highlight the areas of the brain that are active and inactive during the practice.

The study found that, as these mediums communicate with the dead, parts of their brains involved in language and purposeful activity shut down, alongside other patterns of increased and decreased activity.

On the Discovery News website, Emily Sohn quotes neuroscientist Andrew Newberg as saying, "At some point, maybe we will design the perfect study that can prove there were not spirits there and this is just a fascinating way that the brain works. At the moment, all we’re really doing is saying that this is what happens in the brain when you do this particular practice."

Neuropsychologist Patrick McNamara says, "Some people find it easier to access those brain areas associated with spirituality. Other people have to work harder at their religious lives. We have known that for centuries. The brain science just allows us to give a more concrete explanation about why that is the case."

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