Science on Religion

Exploring the nexus of culture, mind & religion

Science on Religion Research News

IBCSR Research Review 200907-200909

IBCSR Research Review, July-September, 2009

(download the PDF version here)


IBCSR Research Review (IRR) is published by the Institute for the Biocultural Study of Religion, a non-profit research institute dedicated to the scientific study of the biocultural aspects of religion. IRR briefly annotates and furnishes online information about scientific research articles related to brain, behavior, culture, and religion published in leading journals. It also lists relevant books. Articles in press are listed without annotation. Annotations for articles aim to supply a preliminary understanding of the methods and results of a research study, or the argument of a paper. Annotations typically furnish more detail for articles in the scientific study of religion related to religion, brain, and behavior than for articles in the area of spirituality and health, in accordance with IBCSR research priorities.

Articles for this issue were located by searching the following databases: Applied Science and Technology, ASFA Biological Sciences, ATLA Religion Database, General Science, Medline (PubMed), Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection, PSYCinfo, ScienceDirect, and Web of Science. The search terms were ((religio* OR meditat* OR pray*) AND (psycholog* OR neurol* OR neuros* OR scien* OR cogniti* OR evolutio*)). Books were located on, Google Books, and Worldcat. Articles not directly relevant to the scientific study of religion were excluded, as was correspondence. Excluding pre-publication articles, 119 entries were retained from 77 journals. There are 19 pre-publication citations from 17 journals.

IRR is distributed via email to those who register at The publisher is Wesley J. Wildman and the editor is Joel Daniels, a doctoral student in Religion and Science at Boston University. Please send comments and suggestions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Part 1: Articles in Religion, Brain, and Behavior

1.1 Scientific Study of Religion: Cognitive Neuroscience

1.2 Scientific Study of Religion: Evolutionary Psychology

1.3 Scientific Study of Religion: General Psychology

1.4 Scientific Study of Religion: Method & Theory

Part 2. Articles in Spirituality & Health Research

2.1 Spirituality & Health: Medical Conditions

2.2 Spirituality & Health: Religiosity

2.3 Spirituality & Health: General

2.4 Spirituality & Health: Well-Being & Longevity

2.5 Spirituality & Health: Method and Theory

Part 3. Books

3.1 Scientific Study of Religion, Brain, and Behavior

3.2 Spirituality & Health Research

Part 4. Articles in Press

4.1 Scientific Study of Religion, Brain, and Behavior

4.2 Spirituality & Health Research


Part 1: Articles in Religion, Brain, and Behavior

1.1 Scientific Study of Religion: Cognitive Neuroscience

Beauregard, Mario, Jérôme Courtemanche & Vincent Paquette. 2009. Brain activity in near-death experiencers during a meditative state. Resuscitation 80(9). 1006-1010.


The brain activity of a group of 15 people who have reported near-death experiences was measured with fMRI and EEG during a Meditation condition and a Control condition. During the Meditation exercise, subjects were asked to mentally visualize and emotionally connect with the “being of light” allegedly encountered during their “near-death experience.” In the Control condition, participants were instructed to mentally visualize the light emitted by a lamp. In the fMRI experiment, significant loci of activation were found during the Meditation condition (compared to the Control condition) in the right brainstem, right lateral orbitofrontal cortex, right medial prefrontal cortex, right superior parietal lobule, left superior occipital gyrus, left anterior temporal pole, left inferior temporal gyrus, left anterior insula, left parahippocampal gyrus and left substantia nigra. In the EEG experiment, electrode sites showed greater theta power in the Meditation condition relative to the Control condition at FP1, F7, F3, T5, P3, O1, FP2, F4, F8, P4, Fz, Cz and Pz. In addition, higher alpha power was detected at FP1, F7, T3 and FP2, whereas higher gamma power was found at FP2, F7, T4 and T5. The results indicate that the meditative state in these participants was associated with prominent hemodynamic and neuroelectric changes in brain regions known to be implicated in either positive emotions, visual mental imagery, attention or spiritual experiences.

Berkum, Jos J.A. Van, Bregje Holleman, Mante Nieuwland, Marte Otten & Jaap Murre. 2009. Right or Wrong? The Brain’s Fast Response to Morally Objectionable Statements. Psychological Science 20(9). 1092-1099.


Researchers measured event-related brain potentials using EEG from two groups of Dutch respondents with opposing value systems , to measure how quickly values are brought to bear on processing as people read an attitude-survey statement. 21 were members of a strict Christian political party (the SGP); 22 self-designated as non-religious, and voted for political parties with moral-ethical programs opposite to that of the SGP. Results show that value-based disagreement is unlocked by language extremely rapidly, within 200 to 250 ms after the first word that indicates a clash with the reader’s value system (e.g., “I think euthanasia is an acceptable/unacceptable course of action,” measuring after “acceptable” or “unacceptable”). Strong disagreement rapidly influences the ongoing analysis of meaning, which indicates that even very early processes in language comprehension are sensitive to a person’s value system. Results testify to rapid reciprocal links between neural systems for language and for valuation.

Goldin, Philippe, Wiveka Ramel & James Gross. 2009. Mindfulness Meditation Training and Self-Referential Processing in Social Anxiety Disorder: Behavioral and Neural Effects. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy 23. 242-257.


The study examined the effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on brain-behavior mechanisms in patients with social anxiety disorder. Sixteen patients underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging while encoding self-referential, valence, and orthographic features of social trait adjectives. Post-MBSR, 14 patients completed neuroimaging. Compared to baseline, MBSR completers showed (a) increased self-esteem and decreased anxiety, (b) increased positive and decreased negative self-endorsement, (c) increased activity in a brain network related to attention regulation, and (d) reduced activity in brain systems implicated in conceptual-linguistic self-view. MBSR-related changes in maladaptive or distorted social self-view in adults diagnosed with SAD may be related to modulation of conceptual self-processing and attention regulation.

Hsieh, C.H., C.H. Liou, C.W. Hsieh, C.H. Wang, L.K. Ho & J.H. Chen. 2009. The Exploring of Buddhist Meditation by Using fMRI. NeuroImage 47(Supplement 1). S133.


Four subjects, each with 12+ years meditation experience, underwent BOLD-based fMRI testing three times each. They alternated between a three-minute control state (three times) and three minutes of meditation on a nine-word phrase (two times), for a total scan time of 15 minutes. During meditation, areas of positive activation in the right hemisphere were: anterior cingulate cortex of limbic lobe; supramarginal gyrus of parietal lobe (BA40); superior temporal (BA22) of temporal lobe; precuneus (BA7) of parietal lobe; superior occipital gyrus (BA19) of occipital lobe; medial frontal gyrus (BA6) of frontal lobe; culmen; and thalamus. In the left cerebellum, areas of positive activation were precentral gyrus (BA4) of frontal lobe and paracentral lobule (BA31) of frontal lobe. Negative activation in the right hemisphere was found in the middle frontal gyrus (BA10) of frontal lobe, and tuber of posterior lobe. Negative activation in the left hemisphere was found in the superior temporal gyrus (BA10) of frontal lobe, superior frontal gyrus (BA8) of frontal lobe, and middle frontal gyrus (BA9) of frontal lobe.

Kapogiannis, Dimitrios, Aron K. Barbey, Michael Su, Frank Krueger & Jordan Grafman. 2009. Neuroanatomical Variability of Religiosity. PLoS ONE 4(9). e7180.


Researchers performed structural magnetic resonance imaging of the brain in 40 healthy adult participants who reported different degrees and patterns of religiosity on a survey, and identified four principal components of religiosity by factor analysis of the survey items, associating them with regional cortical volumes measured by voxel-based morphometry. Experiencing an intimate relationship with God and engaging in religious behavior was associated with increased volume of right middle temporal cortex (BA21). Experiencing fear of God was associated with decreased volume of left precuneus and left orbitofrontal cortex (BA11). A cluster of traits related with pragmatism and doubting God’s existence was associated with increased volume of the right precuneus. Variability in religiosity of upbringing was not associated with variability in cortical volume of any region.

Kilpatrick, LA, BY Suyenobu, SR Smith, JA Bueller, EA Mayer & BD Naliboff. 2009. Impact of Mindfulness Meditation Training on the Default Network. NeuroImage 47(Supplement 1). S156.


12 healthy, meditation-naive female subjects were scanned using fMRI following a Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course, and compared to 8 wait list controls. Subjects were asked to close their eyes and be mindfully aware of their surroundings during a 5 minute baseline fMRI scan. Group independent component analysis was performed to investigate training-related changes among DMN brain regions during mindful rest.

MBSR-trained subjects, compared to wait list controls, showed significantly increased DMN connectivity with the left dorsal and inferior lateral prefrontal cortex (BA10), left angular gyrus (BA39), left inferior parietal lobule (BA40), and bilateral precuneus (BA7) and decreased DMN connectivity with the bilateral hippocampal formation, right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (BA46) and bilateral posterior cingulate cortex (BA23). MBSR-training appears to induce changes in the nature of self-referential thought processes occurring in the absence of goal-directed behavior, facilitating present-centered self-awareness and reducing ruminative type thinking.

Kim, Ji-Woong, Sung-Eun Kim, Jae-Jin Kim, Bumseok Jeong, Chang-Hyun Park, Ae Ree Son, Ji Eun Song & Seon Wan Ki. 2009. Compassionate attitude towards others’ suffering activates the mesolimbic neural system. Neuropsychologia 47(10). 2073-2081.


21 healthy normal volunteers participated in this study to understand the neural nature of compassion. Researchers used a 2 x 2 factorial design in which each subject was asked to assume a compassionate attitude or passive attitude while viewing sad or neutral facial affective pictures during fMRI scanning. The main effect of a compassionate attitude was observed in the medial frontal cortex, the subgenual frontal cortex, the inferior frontal cortex and the midbrain regions. A test of the interaction between a compassionate attitude and sad facial affect revealed significant activations in the midbrain-ventral striatum/septal network region. Results suggest that taking a compassionate attitude towards other people’s sad expressions modulate the activities of the midbrain-ventral striatum/septal region network, which is known to play a role in the prosocial/social approach motivation and its accompanied rewarding feeling.

van Leeuwen, Sara, Notger G Müller & Lucia Melloni. 2009. Age effects on attentional blink performance in meditation. Consciousness and Cognition 18(3). 593-599.


Researchers studied results of the attentional blink (AB) test on 17 experienced meditation practitioners (mean age 49.8), recruited from a Shambala meditation center and a Zen dojo. These results were compared with the AB test results of seventeen age-matched controls (mean age 50) and seventeen young controls (mean age 24.3), neither of which had any experience with meditation. The meditation group outperformed both the age-matched and young control group in the AB test, having an AB that was smaller in magnitude and briefer in duration. Typically, performance on the AB test is negatively correlated with age. This research suggests that meditation practice can counteract age-related deterioration in performance on the AB task.

Liou, C-H, C-H Hsieh, C-W Hsieh, C-H Wang, S-C Lee & J-H Chen. 2009. Brain Functional Mapping on Physiological Regulating Phenomena during Meditation Exercise. NeuroImage 47(Supplement 1). S156.


Study investigated BOLD signals activity of 17 experienced meditators using fMRI. The subjects engaged in 3 minutes of control state, 3 minutes of repeating a specific phrase, and 9 minutes of no further action, for a total scan time of 15 minutes. Researchers studied the brain activation area during the final stage. During this final period, the following brain regions showed negative activation: dACC (dorsal anterior cingulate cortex); superior frontal gyrus; caudate body; amygdale; superior temporal gyrus; and cuneus. Regions of positive activation were: vACC (ventral anterior cingulate cortex), declive, culmen, thalamus and hypothalamus.

Lutz, Antoine, Lawrence L Greischar, David M Perlman & Richard J Davidson. 2009. BOLD signal in insula is differentially related to cardiac function during compassion meditation in experts vs. novices. NeuroImage 47(3). 1038-1046.


Using fMRI, study examined the interaction between state (compassion vs. neutral) and group (novice vs. expert) on the relation between heart rate (HR) and BOLD signal during presentation of emotional sounds presented during each state. Participants were 10 novice meditators and 13 experts in Buddhist meditation. Findings revealed that BOLD signal in the right middle insula showed a significant association with HR across state and group. This association was stronger in the left middle/posterior insula when experts were compared to novices. The positive coupling of HR and BOLD was higher within the compassion state than within the neutral state in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex for both groups. This state effect was stronger for experts than novices in somatosensory cortices and the right inferior parietal lobule.

Ly, M & ML Spezio. 2009. The Effect of Meditation on Neural Systems Implicated in Social Judgments. NeuroImage 47(Supplement 1). S194.


Using fMRI, researchers investigated whether neural areas that were differentially activated by meditation continued to be recruited during simple judgments involving making trustworthiness attributions from visual facial images. Using a within-subjects experimental design, experienced meditation practitioners either meditated or focused attention on an audio narrative, and signaled via button press when mind wandering occurred. Subsequently, participants made trustworthiness judgments based on facial images presented for 50 milliseconds, preceded by 10 minutes of either meditating or focusing on the audio narrative.

During meditation, mindfulness in contrast to mind wandering recruited a greater activation in the bilateral insula and paracingulate. Mindfulness during meditation in contrast to focused listening was associated with greater activation in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), dorsomedial prefrontal cortex and right precuneus. Meditation prior to making trustworthiness judgments elicited increased activation in the left lateralized insula, inferofrontal gyrus and ventral anterior cingulate cortex (vACC). In contrast to focused listening, meditation was associated with a larger recruitment of the left insula, ACC, and right parietal cortex. The study suggests that meditation may influence neural circuits in an enduring manner in which they may be easily recruited during social cognition. It is also suggested that the co-activation of the ACC and insula are associated with greater emotional and self-conscious awareness.

Lykins, Emily L.B. & Ruth A. Baer. 2009. Psychological Functioning in a Sample of Long-Term Practitioners of Mindfulness Meditation. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy 23. 226-241.


In this study, long-term meditators and demographically similar nonmeditators completed self-report measures of constructs expected to be related to the practice of mindfulness meditation. Extent of meditation experience was correlated in the expected directions with levels of mindfulness and with many other variables. Mean differences between meditators and nonmeditators were significant in most cases. Mediation analyses were consistent with the hypothesis that practicing meditation is associated with increased mindfulness in daily life, which is related to decreased rumination, decreased fear of emotion, and increased behavioral self-regulation. These mechanisms appear partially responsible for the relationships between mindfulness skills and psychological adjustment. The current study suggests that the long-term practice of mindfulness meditation may cultivate mindfulness skills and promote adaptive functioning.

Oke, Stacey L & Kevin J Tracey. 2009. The inflammatory reflex and the role of complementary and alternative medical therapies. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1172. 172-180.


In this paper, the authors discuss the role of cytokines in the immune response, describe the inflammatory reflex and the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway, consider previous clinical trial results in the context of the inflammatory reflex, and present the potential relationship between the inflammatory reflex and the field of complementary and alternative medicine, including acupuncture and meditation. Knowledge concerning the relationship between the vagus nerve and the immune system offers a unique opportunity to explore previously unrecognized techniques to treat disease. It also enables consideration of the neurological basis of complementary and alternative medical therapies in their effect on the immune system via the impact on the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway. This research has implications for the pathogenesis of chronic inflammatory conditions including inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes, and other conditions of excessive cytokine release.

Pizzella, V, S Della Penna, M Brunetti, R Franciotti, D Mantini, L Marzetti, M Olivetti-Belardinell, A Raffone & GL Romani. 2009. Brain Activity of Buddhist Monks During Focused Attention Meditation: A MEG Study. NeuroImage 47(Supplement 1). S156.


Researchers recorded brain activity during meditation from 7 Buddhist monks: 4 High-Expertise (HE) meditators with 25 years of meditation experience, and 3 Low-Expertise (LE) meditators, with 8 years of meditation experience. For LE meditators, researchers observed an engagement of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) during focused attention meditation, while the somatomotor network and inferior parietal lobule (IPL) were released. Conversely, for HE meditators, the visual network and the areas involved in visuospatial attention are engaged during focused attention meditation, while the left superior temporal gyrus/temporoparietal junction (involved in self-representation), the right insula (involved in interoceptive and feeling awareness) and the somatosensory cortex (SII, involved in somatosensory representation) are released during focused attention meditation.

Preliminary results demonstrate that the alpha/beta pattern of activity/release of brain areas during focused attention meditation depends on the experience level of the meditators. In LE meditators a strong alpha activity of the DLPFC was found. This activity, with the alpha/beta release of the somatomotor network, is compatible with an effort to concentrate on the breath. In HE meditators researchers found an alpha engagement of the visual network and visuospatial attention areas, and a release of temporo-frontal areas. These patterns of engagement/release suggest that different brain areas are used for focused attentional engagement, with a differential disengagement of self-representation areas, depending on the level of meditation experience.

Raison, C. 2009. Meditation, consternation and inflammation: The effect of compassion focused mind training on physiological and behavioral responses to psychosocial stress. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity 23(Supplement 2). S54.


The author presents data on the effect of a Tibetan–Buddhist-based compassion meditation technique on physiological and behavioral responses to psychosocial stress. Data from two study cohorts suggest that the practice of compassion meditation is associated with reductions in autonomic and innate immune responses to the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST), a widely-used, standardized laboratory-based psychosocial stress paradigm. The author discusses the potential relevance of specific meditation procedures for affecting health-relevant stress pathways. (Abstract of a presentation from the 2009 PsychoNeuroImmunology Research Society Annual Meeting.)

Rubia, Katya. 2009. The neurobiology of Meditation and its clinical effectiveness in psychiatric disorders. Biological Psychology 82(1). 1-11.


The paper reviews the combined evidence from neurobiological and clinical studies on the effect of meditation on body and brain physiology and for clinical effectiveness in disorders of psychiatry. Physiological evidence shows a reduction of stress-related autonomic and endocrine measures with meditation, while neuroimaging studies demonstrate the functional up-regulation of brain regions of affect regulation and attention control. Clinical studies show some evidence for the effectiveness of Meditation in disorders of affect, anxiety and attention. The author calls for comparative studies of different meditation techniques, comparing their cognitive, behavioral and neurofunctional effects.

Slagter, Heleen A, Antoine Lutz, Lawrence L Greischar, Sander Nieuwenhuis & Richard J Davidson. 2009. Theta phase synchrony and conscious target perception: impact of intensive mental training. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 21(8). 1536-1549.


The authors studied the effects of mental training on the duration of the attentional blink (AB) in experienced meditators. Using EEG spectral analyses, researchers found that intensive mental training was associated with decreased cross-trial variability in the phase of oscillatory theta activity after successfully detected T2s, particularly for those individuals who showed the greatest reduction in brain resource allocation to T1. These data implicate theta phase locking in conscious target perception, and suggest that after mental training the cognitive system is more rapidly available to process new target information. Mental training was not associated with changes in the amplitude of T2-induced responses or oscillatory activity before task onset. In combination, these findings illustrate the usefulness of systematic mental training in the study of the human mind by revealing the neural mechanisms that enable the brain to successfully represent target information.

Subramanya, Pailoor & Shirley Telles. 2009. Changes in midlatency auditory evoked potentials following two yoga-based relaxation techniques. Clinical EEG and Neuroscience: Official Journal of the EEG and Clinical Neuroscience Society (ENCS) 40(3). 190-195.

Cyclic meditation combines yoga postures with meditation while supine, and has been found in the past to influence the P300 event-related potential. In this study, the MLAEPs were studied before and after the practice of CM compared to an equal duration of supine rest (SR) in 47 male volunteers, recorded from the vertex referenced to linked earlobes. The Pa wave peak latency and Nb wave peak latency significantly increased following CM compared to before CM. There was a significant increase in the peak amplitude of the Nb wave compared to before CM. Post SR there was a significant increase in the peak latency of the Na wave (p<0.05) compared to before SR. In conclusion following CM the latencies of neural generators corresponding to cortical areas is prolonged, whereas following SR a similar change occurs at mesencephalic-diencephalic levels.

Subramanya, Pailoor & Shirley Telles. 2009. Effect of two yoga-based relaxation techniques on memory scores and state anxiety. BioPsychoSocial Medicine 3. 8.


The immediate effect of two yoga relaxation techniques was studied on memory and state anxiety in 57 male volunteers. Participants were assessed before and after Cyclic meditation (CM), practiced for 22:30 minutes on one day, and an equal duration of Supine rest (SR) on another day. Sections of the Wechsler memory scale (WMS) were used to assess attention and concentration (digit span forward and backward), and associate learning. State anxiety was assessed using Spielberger’s State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). There was a significant improvement in the scores of all sections of the WMS studied after both CM and SR, but, the magnitude of change was more after CM compared to after SR. The state anxiety scores decreased after both CM and SR, with a greater magnitude of decrease after CM. There was no correlation between percentage change in memory scores and state anxiety for either session.

Vera, Francisca M, Juan M Manzaneque, Enrique F Maldonado, Gabriel A Carranque, Francisco M Rodriguez, Maria J Blanca & Miguel Morell. 2009. Subjective Sleep Quality and hormonal modulation in long-term yoga practitioners. Biological Psychology 81(3). 164-168.


26 subjects were recruited to be part of this study, which was designed to examine the effects of long-term yoga practice on Subjective Sleep Quality (SSQ) and on several hormonal parameters of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The 16 experimental subjects were regular yoga practitioners with a minimum of 3 years of practice, with the remaining 10 being meditation naïve. Blood samples for the quantification of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEA-S) were drawn from all subjects, and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) was employed to assess SSQ. The yoga group displayed lower PSQI scores and higher blood cortisol levels than control subjects. Researchers conclude that long-term yoga practice – integrating body movements, breathing exercises, and meditation – is associated with significant psycho-biological differences, including better sleep quality as well as a modulatory action on the levels of cortisol.

Wu, C.W., C.H. Hsieh, C.W. Li & J.H. Chen. 2009. Functional Connectivity at Meditation State. NeuroImage 47(Supplement 1). S42.


Researchers utilized functional connectivity analysis in research comparing the brain states between normal resting conditions and traditional Chinese meditation states. Using fMRI, 8 experienced meditators were instructed first to stay in a relaxing resting state (9 minutes), then to repeat a mantra and prepare for meditation (3 minutes), and finally to meditate (9 minutes). Findings in meditative states that differed from resting states included a suppressed connection between the supplementary motor area and contralateral motor cortex, and aroused activity on the contralateral side of the middle frontal gyrus and middle temporal gyrus, revealing modulated functional connectivity of motor and attention networks.

When spherical seeds were placed on the right primary motor cortex (M1) and right middle frontal gyrus (MFG), strong connections are observed in the supplementary motor area (SMA) and contralateral M1, formatting the structure of sensori-motor networks. However, such connection was suppressed, or even disappeared in some brain areas, such as the contralateral M1, during the meditation state. With seeds on the right MFG, only ipsilateral connections to precentral gyrus (PCG) and middle temporal gyrus (MTG) were explicit under the resting state; however, under the meditation state, the contralateral side of MFG and MTG are aroused, showing the concentration involved in meditation practices.

Xiong, Glen L & P Murali Doraiswamy. 2009. Does meditation enhance cognition and brain plasticity? Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1172. 63-69.


The authors cite evidence from cognitive, EEG, and structural neuroimaging studies that suggest that meditation may have neuroprotective effects by affecting multiple pathways that could play a role in brain aging and mental fitness. First, meditation may reduce stress-induced cortisol secretion and this could have neuroprotective effects potentially via elevating levels of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Second, meditation may also potentially have beneficial effects on lipid profiles and lower oxidative stress, both of which could reduce the risk for cerebrovascular disease and age-related neurodegeneration. Finally, meditation may potentially strengthen neuronal circuits and enhance cognitive reserve capacity. Future challenges for research include the isolation of a potential common element in the different meditation modalities, replication of existing findings in larger randomized trials, determining the correct “dose,” studying whether findings from expert practitioners are generalizable to a wider population, and better control of the confounding genetic, dietary and lifestyle influences.

Young, Liane & Rebecca Saxe. 2009. Innocent intentions: a correlation between forgiveness for accidental harm and neural activity. Neuropsychologia 47(10). 2065-2072.


Behavioral studies have revealed that moral judgments vary by individual and depend significantly on mental state attribution; judgments of moral blame in particular depend on both the beliefs of the agent (whether the harm was intentional or accidental) and the outcome of the action. During fMRI scanning, 15 individuals were presented with different moral scenarios. Results show that the extent to which innocent intentions are taken into account is correlated with activity in the right temporo-parietal junction (RTPJ), which has been associated with reasoning about other people’s thoughts, beliefs, and intentions. Participants with high RTPJ activation assigned less blame, and participants with low RTPJ activation assigned more blame, to the same agents for the same actions resulting in the same harmful outcomes. The correlation between moral judgment of accidental harms and average percent signal change was specific to the RTPJ and did not emerge for any of the other regions of interest.

1.2 Scientific Study of Religion: Evolutionary Psychology

Braddock, Matthew. 2009. Evolutionary psychology’s moral implications. Biology and Philosophy 24(4). 531-540.


The author summarizes John Cartwright’s Evolution and Human Behavior (2nd edition, 2008) and evaluates Cartwright’s views about the moral implications of Darwinian views of human behavior. Cartwright minimizes the moral implications of Darwinism. Braddock contends that Darwinism, when it is allied with evolutionary psychology, has more significant implications for personal and socio-legal practices regarding the assessment of individuals whose behavior is produced in that way. If evolutionary psychology is subsequently shown to be false, the potential for injustice would be significant.

Dingfelder, Sadie F. 2009. Nice by Nature? Monitor on Psychology 40(8). 58.

The author reviews new research that suggests that moral behavior has evolutionary roots.

Henrich, Joseph. 2009. The evolution of costly displays, cooperation and religion: credibility enhancing displays and their implications for cultural evolution. Evolution and Human Behavior 30(4). 244-260.


This paper lays out an evolutionary theory for the cognitive foundations and cultural emergence of extravagant displays such as ritual mutilation, animal sacrifice and martyrdom, as well as more mundane actions that influence cultural learning and historical processes. The author discusses the broader implications of these ideas for understanding various aspects of religious phenomena like celibacy, fasting and poverty..

Reiss, Michael J. 2009. The relationship between evolutionary biology and religion. Evolution; International Journal of Organic Evolution 63(7). 1934-1941.


This article examines the characteristics of science and of religions and the possible relationship between the two. The author argues that creationism is sometimes best viewed not as a misconception but as a worldview. Strategies for teaching evolutionary biology to creationist students in a non-threatening manner are offered.

1.3 Scientific Study of Religion: General Psychology

Arruñada, Benito. 2009. Specialization and Rent Seeking in Moral Enforcement: The Case of Confession. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 48(3). 443-461.


This article argues that, as moral codes are produced and enforced by specialized means, and subject to standard economic forces, the intermediary role played by the Catholic Church between God and Christians faces the standard tradeoff of specialization benefits and agency costs. It applies this trade-off hypothesis to confession of sins to priests, showing that this hypothesis fits cognitive, historical, and econometric evidence better than a simpler “rent-seeking “ story. Catholics who confess more often are observed to comply more with the moral code; however, no relationship is observed between mass attendance and moral compliance.

Burris, Christopher T. & Keehan Bailey. 2009. What Lies Beyond: Theory and Measurement of Afterdeath Beliefs. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion 19(3). 173-186.


The authors create an “Afterdeath Belief Scale,” designed to measure variations in individuals’ beliefs about life after death, based on the idea that there are five variations of afterdeath belief: Annihilation, Disembodied Spirit, Spiritual Embodiment, Reincarnation, and Bodily Resurrection.

Burris, Jessica L, Gregory T Smith & Charles R Carlson. 2009. Relations among religiousness, spirituality, and sexual practices. Journal of Sex Research 46(4). 282-289.


The study demonstrates that spirituality (as separate from religiosity) is positively associated with participants’ number of sexual partners and frequency of sex without a condom.

Kraus, Rachel. 2009. Straddling the sacred and secular: Creating a spiritual experience through belly dance. Sociological Spectrum 29(5). 598-625.


In this study of spiritual experiences through secular activities, and using surveys and interviews with 77 belly dancers in the United States, this study shows that belly dance is spiritual for people who consider spirituality important in their lives, have belly danced for many years, rarely attend worship services, and are not affiliated with Judeo-Christian religions. The dance itself and the environment in which one dances facilitate spiritual experiences.

Lambert, Nathaniel M., Frank D. Fincham, Scott R. Braithwaite, Steven M. Graham & Steven R. H. Beach. 2009. Can prayer increase gratitude? Psychology of Religion and Spirituality 1(3). 139-149.


Four studies provide evidence that prayer increases gratitude.

Lee, Eun-Kyoung Othelia & Keith Chan. 2009. Religious/spiritual and other adaptive coping strategies among Chinese American older immigrants. Journal of Gerontological Social Work 52(5). 517-533.


This study, undertaken via in-depth interviews with 12 Chinese American older adults, explores the meaning of suffering, and faith as a coping mechanism. Findings reveal that these respondents have developed particular adaptive strategies in managing their life challenges incorporating socio-emotional, cognitive, and instrumental aspects. Religious/spiritual coping was found to be embedded with respondents’ values, faith, and cultural beliefs, and seem to be an important factor in developing effective coping strategies.

Lowis, Michael J, Anthony C Edwards & Mary Burton. 2009. Coping with retirement: well-being, health, and religion. The Journal of Psychology 143(4). 427-448.

Faith in nature and humanity (positive correlation) and the use of coping religion (negative correlation) predicted internal locus of control (LOC), a predictor for life coping. Spirituality was a predictor of both the faith in nature and humanity variable and the coping religion variable.

Richardson, Gary & Michael McBride. 2009. Religion, longevity, and cooperation: The case of the craft guild. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 71(2). 172-186.


When the mortality rate is high, repeated interaction alone may not sustain cooperation, and religion may play an important role in shaping economic institutions. This insight explains why guilds prospered during the 14th century, while new methods of organizing industry came about during the 16th century. The logic underlying this conclusion has implications for the study of institutions, economics, and religion throughout history and in the developing world today.

Saroglou, Vassilis, Olivier Corneille & Patty Van Cappellen. 2009. “Speak, Lord, Your Servant Is Listening”: Religious Priming Activates Submissive Thoughts and Behaviors. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion 19(3). 143.


Two studies provided evidence for a religion-submission association. Among these individuals, religious priming increased the accessibility of submission-related concepts and the acceptance of a morally problematic request for revenge.

Taylor, Robert Joseph, Linda M. Chatters & James S. Jackson. 2009. Correlates of spirituality among African Americans and Caribbean Blacks in the United States: Findings from the National Survey of American Life. Journal of Black Psychology 35(3). 317-342.


This study indicates that, compared to Caribbean Blacks and non-Hispanic Whites, African Americans were most likely to endorse statements regarding the importance of spirituality in their lives. African Americans and Caribbean Blacks had no significant differences in levels of spirituality, but both had significantly higher levels than non-Hispanic Whites.

Vess, Matthew, Jamie Arndt, Cathy R Cox, Clay Routledge & Jamie L Goldenberg. 2009. Exploring the existential function of religion: the effect of religious fundamentalism and mortality salience on faith-based medical refusals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 97(2). 334-350.


Heightened concerns about mortality led those with high levels of religious fundamentalism to endorse prayer as a medical substitute. Those individuals were also more supportive of medical refusals and reported an increased willingness to rely on faith alone.

1.4 Scientific Study of Religion: Method & Theory

Brown, Daniel. 2009. Mastery of the mind East and West: excellence in being and doing and everyday happiness. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1172. 231-251.


This paper compares and contrasts the views of positive psychology and Buddhism on the subject of positive states. In both traditions mental imagery is a key ingredient to excellence training. Rorschach and tachistoscopic research on advanced meditators suggests that advance meditators have gained unusual mastery over states of mind not yet documented in the Western psychological research on positive psychology.

Bushell, William C. 2009. New beginnings: evidence that the meditational regimen can lead to optimization of perception, attention, cognition, and other functions. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1172. 348-361.


The author presents a framework for understanding phenomena in the Indo-Tibetan meditation system, and provides evidence that certain meditative practices enable meditators to realize the innate human potential to perceive light “at the limits imposed by quantum mechanics.”

Dakpa, Tenzing & Brooke Dodson-Lavelle. 2009. “Subtle” psychosomatic aspects of Tibetan medicine. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1172. 181-185.

Traditional Tibetan medicine is based on an understanding of a tri-level psycho-physical system. Understanding this intricately linked philosophical, medical, and yogic system is critical for engaging in dialogue about longevity-enhancement within this tradition.

Dodds, Michael J. 2009. Hylomorphism and Human Wholeness: Perspectives on the Mind-Brain Problem. Theology and Science 7(2). 141.


Empirical science has recently developed a new appreciation of the wholeness of individuals or systems. By retrieving some aspects of Aristotle’s philosophy of hylomorphism, we may better understand the metaphysical grounding of human wholeness and so develop an integrated account of the human person, including mind and brain.

Fenton, Andrew. 2009. Buddhism and neuroethics: the ethics of pharmaceutical cognitive enhancement. Developing World Bioethics 9(2). 47-56.


This paper integrates Buddhist values, attitudes and self-cultivation techniques into a discussion of the ethics of cognitive enhancement technologies. The author argues that Buddhists should advocate the development of some pharmaceutical enhancements.

Granqvist, Pehr, Mari Fransson & Berit Hagekull. 2009. Disorganized attachment, absorption, and new age spirituality: a mediational model. Attachment & Human Development 11(4). 385-403.


The authors present a theoretical model and an empirical review linking disorganized attachment with New Age spiritual beliefs and activities. They argue for attachment researchers to address additional non-pathological sequelae of disorganized attachment and the related propensity to experience altered states of consciousness.

Graves, Mark. 2009. The emergence of transcendental norms in human systems. Zygon 44(3). 501-532.


The author utilizes emergence theory, and the thought of Terrence Deacon, Josiah Royce, and Philip Clayton, to make the argument that cross-cultural interactions among human cultural-level systems results in the emergence of the “universal” transcendental norms historically characterized as the Greek Good, Beauty, and Truth.

Howell, Nancy R. 2009. Embodied Transcendence: Bonobos and Humans in Community. Zygon 44(3). 601-612.


The observation of bonobos, close genetic kin to human beings, in community provides the opportunity for reflection on the topics of immanence and transcendence, and the relationships among and between bonobos, human beings, and the Sacred.

Kohls, Niko, Harald Walach & Markus Wirtz. 2009. The relationship between spiritual experiences, transpersonal trust, social support, and sense of coherence and mental distress—a comparison of spiritually practicing and non-practicing samples. Mental Health, Religion & Culture 12(1). 1-23.


The study criticizes the use of unidimensional questionnaires that only measure positive spiritual experiences for explaining the intrapersonal mechanisms associated with regular spiritual practice. Regular spiritual practice seems to alter the pathways to distress derived from positive and negative spiritual and psychopathological experiences.

Loizzo, Joseph. 2009. Optimizing learning and quality of life throughout the lifespan: a global framework for research and application. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1172. 186-198.


This overview surveys the new optimism about the aging mind/brain, focusing on the potential for self-regulation practices to advance research in stress-protection and optimal health. It reviews recent findings and offers a research framework.

Martin, Craig. 2009. Delimiting Religion. Method & Theory in the Study of Religion 21(2). 157-176.


Through a consideration of the nature of language, and alongside Gary Lease’s claim that “there is no religion,” the essay attempts to set out what can and cannot be said about the delimitation of the category “religion.”

Nolan, Steve. 2009. In defence of the indefensible: an alternative to John Paley’s reductionist, atheistic, psychological alternative to spirituality. Nursing Philosophy: An International Journal for Healthcare Professionals 10(3). 203-213.


A response to Paley’s article “Religion and the secularization of health care” (listed below). The author proposes his own alternative and argues that “spirituality” is a non-reductionist attempt in a post-religious society to speak about the human condition open to the unknown. He concludes with a definition and a description of empirically congruent spirituality.

Paley, John. 2009. Religion and the secularisation of health care. Journal of Clinical Nursing 18(14). 1963-1974.


A response to a recent paper by Barbara Pesut (listed below). Paley finds that Pesut privileges Christian theology in a discussion of healthcare spirituality, and he challenges the idea of a global resurgence of religion. He concludes that in secular societies there should be no expectation that nurses provide spiritual care.

Pesut, Barbara. 2009. Incorporating patients’ spirituality into care using Gadow’s ethical framework. Nursing Ethics 16(4). 418-428.


The author holds that incorporating patients’ spiritual beliefs into health care decision-making is essential for ethically good care, and proposes the use by nurses of Gadow’s three-level ethical framework of ethical immediacy, ethical universalism, and relational narrative.

Piedmont, Ralph L., Joseph W. Ciarrochi, Gabriel S. Dy-Liacco & Joseph E. G. Williams. 2009. The empirical and conceptual value of the spiritual transcendence and religious involvement scales for personality research. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality 1(3). 162-179.


The paper makes the case for the use of the Spiritual Transcendence Scale (STS) and the Religious Involvement Scale (RIS) over the Five-Factor Model. The STS and RIS provide insights into people not contained by traditional personality variables.

Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl. 2009. Lived religion: Implications for nursing ethics. Nursing Ethics 16(4). 406-417.


This article explores how ethics and religion interact in everyday life by examining the negotiation of religious and spiritual plurality in health care. Strategies for the reintegration of religion into nursing ethics are offered.

Rockwell, Teed. 2009. Minds, intrinsic properties, and Madhyamaka Buddhism. Zygon 44(3). 659-674.


The author compares the controversy between the Mind/Brain Identity theory (MBI) and the Hypothesis of Extended Cognition (HEC) with issues dealt with by second-century Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna regarding intrinsic and relational causal powers. Nagarjuna proposed a middle way between the two extremes of eternalism and nihilism, which the author suggests could also apply to the HEC.

Rosmarin, David H., Kenneth I. Pargament, Elizabeth J. Krumrei & Kevin J. Flannelly. 2009. Religious coping among Jews: development and initial validation of the JCOPE. Journal of Clinical Psychology 65(7). 670-683.


This study reports on the development and validation of the Jewish Religious Coping Scale (JCOPE). Results of the study suggest that the JCOPE has good psychometric properties, and that religious coping is a significant predictor of psychological distress among Jews.

Shi, Xiaolin, Lada A Adamic, Belle L Tseng & Gavin S Clarkson. 2009. The impact of boundary spanning scholarly publications and patents. PloS One 4(8). e6547.


The authors found that a publication’s citing across disciplines is tied to its subsequent impact. In the case of patents and natural science, publications are cited slightly more when they draw on research outside of their area. In contrast, in the social sciences, citing within one’s own field tends to be positively correlated with impact.

Part 2. Articles in Spirituality & Health Research

2.1 Spirituality & Health: Medical Conditions

Baumhover, Nancy & Linda Hughes. 2009. Spirituality and support for family presence during invasive procedures and resuscitations in adults. American Journal of Critical Care: An Official Publication, American Association of Critical-Care Nurses 18(4). 357-366; quiz 367.


A significant positive relationship was found between spirituality and support for family presence during resuscitative efforts in adults, and a significant negative correlation was found between support for family presence and the age of the health care professional.

Beuscher, Linda & Victoria T Grando. 2009. Using spirituality to cope with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. Western Journal of Nursing Research 31(5). 583-598.


This study describes how individuals with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease (AD) use spirituality to cope with losses of self-esteem, independence, and social interaction. Faith, prayer, connection to church, and family support enhanced the ability of people with early-stage AD to keep a positive attitude.

Casey, Aggie, Bei-Hung Chang, James Huddleston, Narmin Virani, Herbert Benson & Jeffery Dusek. 2009. A Model for Integrating a Mind/Body Approach to Cardiac Rehabilitation: Outcomes and Correlators. Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention 29(4). 230-238.


Patients considered “at higher risk” for cardiac events improved their measures to a less than “at higher risk” level after improvement of diet and exercise, the practice of relaxation response, and the utilization of cognitive behavior skills for stress management.

Chadwick, Paul, Stephanie Hughes, Daphne Russell, Ian Russell & Dave Dagnan. 2009. Mindfulness groups for distressing voices and paranoia: a replication and randomized feasibility trial. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy 37(4). 403-412.


After mindfulness training, subjects with psychosis reflected significant improvement in clinical functioning and mindfulness of distressing thoughts and images after mindfulness training. Findings showed no improvement in voices.

Dekker, Rebecca L, Ann R Peden, Terry A Lennie, Mary P Schooler & Debra K Moser. 2009. Living with depressive symptoms: patients with heart failure. American Journal of Critical Care: An Official Publication, American Association of Critical-Care Nurses 18(4). 310-318.


This paper recommends that clinicians should assess patients with heart failure for stressors that worsen depressive symptoms, and provides strategies that researchers and clinicians can use to reduce depressive symptoms in patients with heart failure.

Dhondup, Lobsang & Cynthia Husted. 2009. Tibetan medicine and regeneration. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1172. 115-122.


Multiple sclerosis is given as an example of how Tibetan medicine treats disease with its understanding of the interplay of the five elements, three humors, and their qualities and locations. The three-humor interpretation agrees with the microscopic three-humor description of demyelination. Treatments to promote regeneration include complementary medicine.

Harvey, Idethia S. 2009. Spiritual Self-Management: A Look at Older Adults with Chronic Illness. Journal of Religion, Spirituality & Aging 21(3). 200.


This study examines the role of spirituality in the self-management of chronic illness among older adults by using criterion sampling between African-American and non-Hispanic white elderly adults. Data analyzed from in-depth interviews produced common themes regarding the process of spirituality in self-management behaviors. Five themes were identified: God: The healer; God: The enabler through doctors; Prayer: The pain manager; Spirituality as a coping mechanism; and, Combining spiritual and conventional modalities.

Löckenhoff, Corinna E, Gail H Ironson, Conall O’Cleirigh & Paul T Costa. 2009. Five-factor model personality traits, spirituality/religiousness, and mental health among people living with HIV. Journal of Personality 77(5). 1411-1436.


Researchers examined the association between five-factor personality domains and facets and spirituality/religiousness as well as their joint association with mental health among people with HIV. Spirituality/religiousness showed associations with Conscientiousness, Openness, and Agreeableness. Personality traits and spirituality/religiousness were significantly linked to mental health.

McElroy-Cox, Caitlin. 2009. Alternative approaches to epilepsy treatment. Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports 9(4). 313-318.

This article reviews several CAM modalities and what is known about their potential efficacy in patients with epilepsy.

Weathers, Benita, Lisa Kessler, Aliya Collier, Jill E Stopfer, Susan Domchek & Chanita Hughes Halbert. 2009. Utilization of religious coping strategies among African American women at increased risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Family & Community Health 32(3). 218-227.


Study evaluated utilization of religious coping strategies among African American women who were at increased risk for having a BRCA1/BRCA2 mutation. Most of the women reported high levels of collaborative coping. These results suggest that African American women may be likely to use collaborative strategies to cope with cancer-related stressors, and it should be discussed during genetic counseling.

Wesa, Kathleen M & Barrie R Cassileth. 2009. Is there a role for complementary therapy in the management of leukemia? Expert Review of Anticancer Therapy 9(9). 1241-1249.


Paper lists complementary therapies appropriate for use by patients with leukemia, along with some treatments that may be risky.

Wicker, Jordan & Kenneth Kamler. 2009. Current concepts in limb regeneration: a hand surgeon’s perspective. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1172. 95-109.


This review covers historical perspectives of regeneration biology and current research regarding human extremity tissue regeneration. With a greater understanding of the mechanisms involved in regeneration, cognitive-behavioral practices such as meditation and yoga may assist in achieving regeneration.

Wildes, Kimberly A, Alexander R Miller, Sandra San Miguel de Majors & Amelie G Ramirez. 2009. The religiosity/spirituality of Latina breast cancer survivors and influence on health-related quality of life. Psycho-Oncology 18(8). 831-840.


The study found that Latina breast cancer survivors had very high levels of religiosity/spirituality (R/S), which were positively correlated with health-related quality of life. High levels of R/S predicted better functional well-being and satisfaction with the patient-doctor relationship.

Yakirevitch, Arkadi, Lev Bedrin, Lela Migirov, Michael Wolf & Yoav P Talmi. 2009. Use of alternative medicine in Israeli chronic rhinosinusitis patients. Journal of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery - Le Journal D’oto-Rhino-Laryngologie Et De Chirurgie Cervico-Faciale 38(4). 517-520.

The authors studied the use of complementary and alternative medicine among Chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) patients in Israel. Of 90 patients studied, 19 reported using CAM.

Yanez, Betina, Donald Edmondson, Annette L Stanton, Crystal L Park, Lorna Kwan, Patricia A Ganz & Thomas O Blank. 2009. Facets of spirituality as predictors of adjustment to cancer: relative contributions of having faith and finding meaning. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 77(4). 730-741.


The authors examined two components of spiritual well-being (meaning/peace and faith) and their interaction as predictors of psychological adjustment. Findings suggest that the ability to find meaning and peace is the more influential contributor to favorable adjustment during cancer survivorship, although faith appears to be uniquely related to perceived cancer-related growth.

Zavala, Mary Wassel, Sally L Maliski, Lorna Kwan, Arlene Fink & Mark S Litwin. 2009. Spirituality and quality of life in low-income men with metastatic prostate cancer. Psycho-Oncology 18(7). 753-761.


The study shows that greater spirituality and meaning/peace measurements were associated with better health-related quality of life (HRQOL) among men with metastatic prostate cancer. Higher faith scores in the absence of high meaning/peace scores were negatively associated with HRQOL.

2.2 Spirituality & Health: Religiosity

Duriez, Bart, Bart Soenens, Bart Neyrinck & Maarten Vansteenkiste. 2009. Is Religiosity Related to Better Parenting?: Disentangling Religiosity From Religious Cognitive Style. Journal of Family Issues 30(9). 1287-1307.


Whereas parental religiosity is negatively related to an openness to change goals, a symbolic religious cognitive style relates positively to need support and the promotion of intrinsic rather than extrinsic goals. While relations between religiosity and parenting are limited and not unequivocally positive, a symbolic religious cognitive style relates to adaptive parenting styles and goals.

Ellison, Christopher G & Kevin J Flannelly. 2009. Religious involvement and risk of major depression in a prospective nationwide study of African American adults. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 197(8). 568-573.


This study investigated the association between religious involvement and major depression in African American adults. Participants who reported receiving “a great deal” of guidance from religion were less likely to have major depression three years later. No association was found between religious attendance or church support and major depression.

Ellison, Christopher G., Amy M. Burdette & Terrence D. Hill. 2009. Blessed assurance: Religion, anxiety, and tranquility among US adults. Social Science Research 38(3). 656-667.


Data from the 1996 General Social Survey show that frequency of religious attendance and the belief in an afterlife are inversely associated with feelings of anxiety and positively associated with feelings of tranquility. However, frequency of prayer has no direct association with either outcome. Strong beliefs in the pervasiveness of sin are positively linked with anxiety but unrelated to tranquility. Finally, belief in an afterlife and frequency of prayer buffer the adverse effects of poor health and financial decline on anxiety.

Gearing, Robin E. & Dana Lizardi. 2009. Religion and Suicide. Journal of Religion and Health 48(3). 332-341.


Religiosity can potentially serve as a protective factor against suicidal behavior. Epidemiological data on suicidality across four religions, and the influence of religion on suicidality, are presented.

Krause, Neal. 2009. Religious Involvement, Gratitude, and Change in Depressive Symptoms Over Time. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion 19(3). 155-172.


The effects of ongoing economic difficulty on depressive symptoms are especially pronounced for older people who are less grateful, and do not affect depressive symptoms for older individuals who are especially grateful. More frequent church attendance and stronger God-mediated control beliefs are associated with positive changes in gratitude.

Krause, Neal & Christopher G. Ellison. 2009. Social environment of the church and feelings of gratitude toward God. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality 1(3). 191-205.


The study found that people who attend church frequently are more likely to believe that their congregation is highly cohesive; individuals in cohesive congregations receive more emotional support from fellow members; people who receive more emotional support are more likely to feel a spiritual connection with others; people who feel closely connected with other individuals feel especially grateful to God.

Law, Rita W & David A Sbarra. 2009. The effects of church attendance and marital status on the longitudinal trajectories of depressed mood among older adults. Journal of Aging and Health 21(6). 803-823.


Church attendance was found to have a protective effect against the emergence of mood problems among older adults. Although becoming married was associated with a decrease in depressed mood, becoming nonmarried was associated with an increase in depressed mood.

Reeve, Charlie L. 2009. Expanding the g-nexus: Further evidence regarding the relations among national IQ, religiosity and national health outcomes. Intelligence 37(5). 495-505.


Results show that IQ has a positive influence on national health. IQ and belief rate interacted to influence reproductive health; high IQ acts as a buffer against the negative effects of belief rate. The findings confirm that general cognitive ability (i.e., the g-factor) is an important and central node within a larger nexus of psychological and social variables.

Rosmarin, David H., Steven Pirutinsky, Kenneth I. Pargament & Elizabeth J. Krumrei. 2009. Are religious beliefs relevant to mental health among Jews? Psychology of Religion and Spirituality 1(3). 180-190.


Two studies were conducted to compare the extent to which religious beliefs predicted depression and anxiety for Orthodox Jews, non-Orthodox Jews, and Protestants. Results indicated that beliefs were salient for Orthodox Jews and Protestants, and less relevant for non-Orthodox Jews. Among Orthodox Jews, religious beliefs remained a significant predictor of anxiety and depression after controlling for religious practices.

Schubmehl, Jessica, Stephen Cubbellotti & William Van Ornum. 2009. The effect of spirituality and campus ministry on academic accomplishment in college students. Adolescence 44(174). 499-502.

In this experiment the effect of spirituality and campus ministry involvement on academic accomplishment was studied. College students were administered a questionnaire that contained the Index of Core Spiritual Experiences (INSPIRIT), a list of campus ministry activities and GPA. The researchers correlated the INSPIRIT score with involvement in campus ministry activities.

Strayhorn, Joseph & Jillian Strayhorn. 2009. Religiosity and teen birth rate in the United States. Reproductive Health 6(1). 14.


Utilizing publicly accessible data on birth rates, conservative religious beliefs, income, and abortion rates in the U.S., aggregated at the state level, from the CDC, U.S. Bureau of the Census, and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, researchers found that Increased religiosity in residents of states in the U.S. strongly predicted a higher teen birth rate.

Suanet, Bianca, Marjolein Broese van Groenou & Arjan W Braam. 2009. Changes in volunteering among young old in the Netherlands between 1992 and 2002: the impact of religion, age-norms, and intergenerational transmission. European Journal of Ageing 6(3). 157-165.


A study of Dutch young old (55–64 years old) finds that lower religious level suppresses the volunteering rate of the current group. However, the percentage volunteering in 2002 was 20% greater than the percentage in 1992, a finding the researchers attribute to an increased educational level.

Vandercreek, Larry & Kenneth Mottram. 2009. The religious life during suicide bereavement: a description. Death Studies 33(8). 741-761.

The authors interviewed 10 suicide survivors about their religious life. Ten themes emerged: afterlife destiny of the loved one, a more spiritual perspective, the impact on religious beliefs, support from family and friends, survivors’ contribution to emotionally distant relationships, long-term and in-depth spiritual support, religious support from congregants, the ministry of clergy, the funeral service, and the return to public worship services.

Wisneski, Daniel C., Brad L. Lytle & Linda J. Skitka. 2009. Gut Reactions: Moral Conviction, Religiosity, and Trust in Authority. Psychological Science 20(9). 1059-1063.


Study found that greater religiosity was associated with greater trust in the U.S. Supreme Court to adjudicate the issue of physician-assisted suicide, and that stronger moral convictions about the issue were associated with greater distrust. The processes underlying religious trust and distrust based on moral convictions were more quick and visceral than slow and carefully considered.

2.3 Spirituality & Health: General

Alexander, Mary Jane, Gary Haugland, Peter Ashenden, Ed Knight & Isaac Brown. 2009. Coping with thoughts of suicide: techniques used by consumers of mental health services. Psychiatric Services (Washington, D.C.) 60(9). 1214-1221.


Individuals with a history of suicidal behavior indicated that they deal with suicidal thoughts through spirituality, talking to someone, positive thinking, using the mental health system, considering consequences of suicide to family and friends, peer supports, and doing something pleasurable. Only 12% indicated that they considered the mental health system a frontline strategy.

Cordon, Shari L., Kirk Warren Brown & Pamela R. Gibson. 2009. The Role of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on Perceived Stress: Preliminary Evidence for the Moderating Role of Attachment Style. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy 23. 258-269.


Study findings support the efficacy of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) across attachment style. Findings also suggest that MBSR participation may provide slightly greater stress reduction benefits for insecurely attached individuals.

Dittmann, K. A. & M. R. Freedman. 2009. Body Awareness, Eating Attitudes, and Spiritual Beliefs of Women Practicing Yoga. Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment & Prevention 17(4). 273-292.


This research evaluated attitudes about body image and eating in women practicing postural yoga. Qualitative data reported improvements in body satisfaction and a reduction in disordered eating due in part to yoga and its associated spirituality.

Downey, Lois, Paula Diehr, Leanna J Standish, Donald L Patrick, Leila Kozak, Douglass Fisher, Sean Congdon & William E Lafferty. 2009. Might massage or guided meditation provide “means to a better end”? Primary outcomes from an efficacy trial with patients at the end of life. Journal of Palliative Care 25(2). 100-108.

The study demonstrated no significant treatment effects of either massage or guided meditation for palliative care patients when compared with outcomes of a group that received visits from hospice-trained volunteers.

Downey, Lois, Ruth A Engelberg, Leanna J Standish, Leila Kozak & William E Lafferty. 2009. Three lessons from a randomized trial of massage and meditation at end of life: patient benefit, outcome measure selection, and design of trials with terminally ill patients. The American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Care 26(4). 246-253.


A recent study with terminally ill patients produced no evidence of benefit from massage or guided meditation. However, reanalysis suggested significant gains from massage. The authors conclude that: adding a menu of complementary therapies may yield significant benefit; patient preference is an important predictor of outcome; and modifications in trial design may be appropriate for end-of-life studies.

Ben-Arye, Eran, Sonia Karkabi, Chen Shapira, Elad Schiff, Ofer Lavie & Yael Keshet. 2009. Complementary medicine in the primary care setting: Results of a survey of gender and cultural patterns in Israel. Gender Medicine: Official Journal of the Partnership for Gender-Specific Medicine at Columbia University 6(2). 384-397.


This study from Israel revealed that more women in the study used complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) than men. Arab women used CAM less frequently than Jewish women, but reported greater confidence in CAM efficacy and safety.

Kang, Yune Sik, So Young Choi & Eunjung Ryu. 2009. The effectiveness of a stress coping program based on mindfulness meditation on the stress, anxiety, and depression experienced by nursing students in Korea. Nurse Education Today 29(5). 538-543.


A stress coping program based on mindfulness meditation decreased stress and anxiety in nursing students in Korea.

Krasner, Michael S, Ronald M Epstein, Howard Beckman, Anthony L Suchman, Benjamin Chapman, Christopher J Mooney & Timothy E Quill. 2009. Association of an educational program in mindful communication with burnout, empathy, and attitudes among primary care physicians. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association 302(12). 1284-1293.


Physician participation in a mindful communication program was associated with short-term and sustained improvements in well-being and attitudes associated with patient-centered care.

McIver, Shane, Michael McGartland & Paul O’Halloran. 2009. “Overeating is not about the food”: women describe their experience of a yoga treatment program for binge eating. Qualitative Health Research 19(9). 1234-1245.


A 12-week yoga treatment program for binge eating encouraged a group of women’s healthy reconnection to food, and feeling more connected to and positive about their physical well-being.

Priester, Paul E., Josh Scherer, Jesse A. Steinfeldt, Asma Jana-Masri, Terri Jashinsky, Janice E. Jones & Cher Vang. 2009. The frequency of prayer, meditation and holistic interventions in addictions treatment: A national survey. Pastoral Psychology 58(3). 315-322.


91% percent of substance abuse treatment centers studied endorsed a twelve step approach to recovery; 26% actively used prayer; 58% used meditation; and 33% used some form of a self-designated holistic technique.

Seccareccia, Dori & Judith Belle Brown. 2009. Impact of spirituality on palliative care physicians: personally and professionally. Journal of Palliative Medicine 12(9). 805-809.


Addressing spirituality was fundamental to a palliative care physician providing compassionate and holistic care. A palliative care physician’s own spirituality impacts their practice and their practice influences their spirituality.

Snodgrass, Jill. 2009. Toward Holistic Care: Integrating Spirituality and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Older Adults. Journal of Religion, Spirituality & Aging 21(3). 219.


This article presents a theoretical approach to a spiritually integrated cognitive behavioral therapy for older adults, by formulating a modified style of assessment, formulation, beginning therapy, cognitive restructuring, behavior modification, and termination.

You, Kwang Soo, Hae-Ok Lee, Joyce J Fitzpatrick, Susie Kim, Eiji Marui, Jung Su Lee & Paul Cook. 2009. Spirituality, depression, living alone, and perceived health among Korean older adults in the community. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing 23(4). 309-322.


Spirituality activities and Spirituality Index of Well-Being scores were significantly associated with general health and depression for Korean older adults. There were no relationships between the variables of attendance and importance of religion with general health and depression.

2.4 Spirituality & Health: Well-Being & Longevity

Brown, Richard P & Patricia L Gerbarg. 2009. Yoga breathing, meditation, and longevity. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1172. 54-62.


Rorschach and tachistoscopic research on advanced meditators suggests that advanced meditators have gained mastery over states of mind not yet documented in Western psychological research on positive psychology.

Bushell, William C. 2009. Longevity: potential life span and health span enhancement through practice of the basic yoga meditation regimen. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1172. 20-27.


This paper reviews recent psychological, physiological, molecular biological, and anthropological research that has implications for the recognition and understanding of the potential life span and health span enhancing effects of the basic yoga meditational regimen.

Bushell, William C & Neil D Theise. 2009. Toward a unified field of study: longevity, regeneration, and protection of health through meditation and related practices. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1172. 5-19.


The material in Volume 1172 of the Annals is taken from the conference “Longevity and Optimal Health: Integrating Eastern and Western Perspectives.” This overview introduces the authors and summarizes the issues to be discussed, including improved human longevity, regeneration, and protection of health.

Epel, Elissa, Jennifer Daubenmier, Judith Tedlie Moskowitz, Susan Folkman & Elizabeth Blackburn. 2009. Can meditation slow rate of cellular aging? Cognitive stress, mindfulness, and telomeres. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1172. 34-53.


Understanding the malleable determinants of cellular aging is critical to understanding human longevity. Telomeres, the protective caps at the end of chromosomes, may provide a pathway for exploring this question. The researchers propose that some forms of meditation may have salutary effects on telomere length.

Olivo, Erin L. 2009. Protection throughout the life span: the psychoneuroimmunologic impact of Indo-Tibetan meditative and yogic practices. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1172. 163-171.


The Indo-Tibetan tradition claims that proficiency in the suggested longevity practices of meditation, diet, and physical exercise (yoga) will have profound anti-aging, stress-mediating, and health-enhancing effects. In this paper, the author discusses research that demonstrates that there may be a scientific basis for these claims. Western biomedical research illuminating the mechanisms responsible points to the importance of the practices’ anti-inflammatory, anti-stress, and antioxidant effects, and their impact in enhancing the production of endogenous substances that possess general longevity-enhancing, regenerative properties.

Patra, Sanjib & Shirley Telles. 2009. Positive impact of cyclic meditation on subsequent sleep. Medical Science Monitor: International Medical Journal of Experimental and Clinical Research 15(7). CR375-381.

Practicing cyclic meditation, which combines yoga postures and supine rest, twice a day appeared to improve the objective and subjective quality of sleep on the following night.

Rosendahl, Jenny, Katharina Tigges-Limmer, Jan Gummert, Ralf Dziewas, Johannes Maximilian Albes & Bernhard Strauss. 2009. Bypass surgery with psychological and spiritual support (the By.pass study): Study design and research methods. American Heart Journal 158(1). 8-14.e1.


The By.pass study is a bicenter, controlled trial of patients undergoing coronary bypass surgery and coronary bypass surgery combined with valve replacement surgery. The design of the study, which will be completed in July 2010, is described.

Song, Mi-Kyung & Laura C Hanson. 2009. Relationships between psychosocial-spiritual well-being and end-of-life preferences and values in African American dialysis patients. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 38(3). 372-380.


African Americans with end-stage renal disease expressed varied levels of psychosocial and spiritual well-being, and this characteristic was associated with life-sustaining treatment preferences. Religious involvement and importance of spirituality were not associated with end-of-life treatment preferences and acceptance of treatment outcomes.

Tsondu, Geshe Ngawang & Brooke Dodson-Lavelle. 2009. Wisdom and method: extraordinary practices for the realization of longevity and optimal health. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1172. 344-347.


The paper describes the Tibetan contemplative and medical scientific view of the mind-body complex. From the Tibetan perspective, training the mind is essential to the realization of extraordinary levels of longevity, happiness, and optimal health.

2.5 Spirituality & Health: Method and Theory

Baarts, Charlotte & Inge Kryger Pedersen. 2009. Derivative benefits: exploring the body through complementary and alternative medicine. Sociology of Health & Illness 31(5). 719-733.


This paper explores consumers’ experiences of complementary medicine. The authors discuss why clients continue to use CAM even when the treatments do not help, or after they have been relieved of their physiological or mental problems.

Carmody, James. 2009. Evolving Conceptions of Mindfulness in Clinical Settings. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy 23. 270-280.


This paper proposes a model of mindfulness treatment in clinical modalities, based on facility in the use of attention. A description is provided of mechanisms by which attentional skill may lead to the recognition of internal associational processes and account for psychological outcomes.

Chism, Lisa Astalos & Morris A Magnan. 2009. The Relationship of Nursing Students’ Spiritual Care Perspectives to Their Expressions of Spiritual Empathy. The Journal of Nursing Education. 1-9.


This study determined the extent to which nursing students’ spiritual care perspectives account for their expressions of spiritual empathy. Findings suggest that the provision of spiritual care in nursing practice depends, in part, on nurses clarifying their own spiritual care perspectives.

Curlin, Farr A, Kenneth A Rasinski, Ted J Kaptchuk, Ezekiel J Emanuel, Franklin G Miller & Jon C Tilburt. 2009. Religion, clinicians, and the integration of complementary and alternative medicines. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (New York, N.Y.) 15(9). 987-994.


The study compared religious characteristics of general internists, rheumatologists, naturopaths, and acupuncturists. Naturopaths and acupuncturists were more likely to report no religious affiliation, but more likely to describe themselves as very spiritual. Among physicians, increased spirituality and religiosity coincided with more personal use of CAM and willingness to integrate CAM into a treatment program.

Ellis, Hannah Kate & Aru Narayanasamy. 2009. An investigation into the role of spirituality in nursing. British Journal of Nursing 18(14). 886-890.

This article examines the role of spirituality in nursing through a critical literature review. It explores the nature of spiritual care, discusses whether there is a need for it in nursing, and explores ways in which nurses can provide it.

Fowler, Marsha D. 2009. Preface to thematic section: religions, spirituality, ethics and nursing. Religion: overturning the taboo. Nursing Ethics 16(4). 391-392.


The preface to an issue of Nursing Ethics on religion and nursing.

King, Michael B & Harold G Koenig. 2009. Conceptualising spirituality for medical research and health service provision. BMC Health Services Research 9. 116.


In order to clarify the nature of spirituality within a scientific paradigm, the paper provides an overview of critical thinking that might form the basis for a useful definition of spirituality for research and clinical work, and demystifies the language of spirituality for clinical practice and research.

Overholser, James C. & Lauren B. Fisher. 2009. Contemporary perspectives on stress management: Medication, meditation or mitigation. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy 39(3). 147-155.


Stressful life events can increase the risk for developing a variety of physical disorders and emotional problems. The author holds that psychological and social intervention strategies appear more useful than biological treatments for treating disorders related to severe negative life events.

Rosch, Paul J. 2009. Bioelectromagnetic and subtle energy medicine: the interface between mind and matter. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1172. 297-311.


The chapter traces the history of “subtle energy,” the “life energy” referred to in many cultures. Associated Western research takes signaling in living systems from the chemical/molecular to the physical/atomic level of communication. Effects on heart rate variability, stress response, inflammation, and the vagus nerve have been demonstrated and raise the question: Can the power of subtle energies be harnessed for health enhancement? Sophisticated imaging procedures brought to bear on telomere, stem cell, and genetic research are confirming the ability of meditation and some other traditional practices to promote optimal health through stress reduction.

Vettese, Lisa Christine, Tony Toneatto, Jonathan N. Stea, Linda Nguyen & Jenny Jing Wang. 2009. Do Mindfulness Meditation Participants Do Their Homework? And Does It Make a Difference? A Review of the Empirical Evidence. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy 23. 198-225.


In research of mindfulness-based interventions, regular between-session practice is among the key factors proposed to produce the therapeutic benefits of mindfulness-based programs. A review of the relevant literature indicates a substantial disparity between what is espoused clinically and what is known empirically about the benefits of mindfulness practice. Improved methodologies are recommended.

Part 3. Books

3.1 Scientific Study of Religion, Brain, and Behavior

Belzen, J.A. (ed.). 2009. Changing the Scientific Study of Religion: Beyond Freud?: Theoretical, Empirical and Clinical Studies from Psychoanalytic Perspectives. Springer.

Hood, Jr., Ralph W., Peter C. Hill & Bernard Spilka. 2009. The Psychology of Religion: An Empirical Approach. 4th ed. The Guilford Press.

Smith, Christian. 2009. Moral, Believing Animals: Human Personhood and Culture. Oxford University Press.

Stausberg, Michael (ed.). 2009. Contemporary Theories of Religion: A Critical Companion. Routledge.

3.2 Spirituality & Health Research

Beitman, Bernard D. & Daniel A. Monti. 2009. Integrative psychiatry. New York: Oxford University Press.

Part 4. Articles in Press

4.1 Scientific Study of Religion, Brain, and Behavior

Baijal, Shruti & Narayanan Srinivasan. 2009. Theta activity and meditative states: spectral changes during concentrative meditation. Cognitive Processing.


Jansen, Bernard J., Andrea Tapia & Amanda Spink. 2009. Searching for salvation: An analysis of US religious searching on the World Wide Web. Religion.


Khalsa, Dharma, Daniel Amen, Chris Hanks, Nisha Money & Andrew Newberg. 2009. Cerebral blood flow changes during chanting meditation. Nuclear Medicine Communications.


Pace, Thaddeus W, Lobsang Tenzin Negi, Teresa I Sivilli, Michael J Issa, Steven P Cole, Daniel D Adame & Charles L Raison. 2009. Innate immune, neuroendocrine and behavioral responses to psychosocial stress do not predict subsequent compassion meditation practice time. Psychoneuroendocrinology.


4.2 Spirituality & Health Research

Baranowsky, Julia, Petra Klose, Frauke Musial, Winfried Haeuser, Gustav Dobos & Jost Langhorst. 2009. Qualitative systemic review of randomized controlled trials on complementary and alternative medicine treatments in fibromyalgia. Rheumatology International.


Black, David S, Joel Milam & Steve Sussman. 2009. Sitting-Meditation Interventions Among Youth: A Review of Treatment Efficacy. Pediatrics.


Cotton, Sian, Yvonne Humenay Roberts, Joel Tsevat, Maria T Britto, Paul Succop, Meghan E McGrady & Michael S Yi. 2009. Mind-body complementary alternative medicine use and quality of life in adolescents with inflammatory bowel disease. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.


Cunningham, Shayna, Deanna Kerrigan, Clea McNeely & Jonathan Ellen. 2009. The Role of Structure Versus Individual Agency in Churches’ Responses to HIV/AIDS: A Case Study of Baltimore City Churches. Journal of Religion and Health.


Edlund, Mark, Katherine Harris, Harold Koenig, Xiaotong Han, Greer Sullivan, Rhonda Mattox & Lingqi Tang. 2009. Religiosity and decreased risk of substance use disorders: is the effect mediated by social support or mental health status? Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.


Galanter, Marc, Helen Dermatis, Nancy Talbot, Caitlin McMahon & Mary Alexander. 2009. Introducing Spirituality into Psychiatric Care. Journal of Religion and Health.


Khalsa, Sat, Stephanie Shorter, Stephen Cope, Grace Wyshak & Elyse Sklar. 2009. Yoga Ameliorates Performance Anxiety and Mood Disturbance in Young Professional Musicians. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback.


Kompoliti, Katie, Wenqin Fan & Sue Leurgans. 2009. Complementary and alternative medicine use in Gilles de la Tourette syndrome. Movement Disorders: Official Journal of the Movement Disorder Society.


Koole, Sander L., Olesya Govorun, Clara Michelle Cheng & Marcello Gallucci. 2009. Pulling yourself together: Meditation promotes congruence between implicit and explicit self-esteem. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.


Melkonyan, Tigran & Mark Pingle. 2009. Religion and Faith: A Decision Theory Perspective. Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion 5.

Park, Crystal, Donald Edmondson, Amy Hale-Smith & Thomas Blank. 2009. Religiousness/spirituality and health behaviors in younger adult cancer survivors: does faith promote a healthier lifestyle? Journal of Behavioral Medicine.


Peressutti, Caroline, Juan M Martín-González, Juan M García-Manso & Denkô Mesa. 2009. Heart rate dynamics in different levels of Zen meditation. International Journal of Cardiology.


Schafer, Rachel, Paul Handal, Peter Brawer & Megan Ubinger. 2009. Training and Education in Religion/Spirituality Within APA-Accredited Clinical Psychology Programs: 8 Years Later. Journal of Religion and Health.


Surbone, Antonella, Lea Baider, Tammy Weitzman, Mary Brames, Cynthia Rittenberg & Judith Johnson. 2009. Psychosocial care for patients and their families is integral to supportive care in cancer: MASCC position statement. Supportive Care in Cancer: Official Journal of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer.


Young, Emma Claire, Chris Brammar, Emily Owen, Nailah Brown, John Lowe, Collette Johnson, Rachel Calam, Steve Jones, Ashley Woodcock & Jaclyn A Smith. 2009. The Effect of Mindfulness Meditation on Cough Reflex Sensitivity. Thorax.




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