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We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

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The Big Idea for Monday, January 13, 2014

Are we hardwired for religion and spirituality? According to Andrew Newberg, Director of Research at the Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine, the answer is yes, and this has important implications for how you can improve your brain function.

Since being religious or spiritual was an adaptive process it got incorporated into the biological mechanisms of the brain. And so the brain is able to very easily engage in religious and spiritual practices, ideas and experiences. 

In today's lesson, Newberg argues that repetition is important. The more you are doing a particular practice, whatever it is, religious or otherwise, the more you are writing that information into the neural connections of the brain. The neurons that support that idea or support that practice fire together. They strengthen their connections, and it makes it easier for you to come back to that particular practice, and it also strengthens the beliefs that are around that particular practice.

Therefore, a practice like meditation, even in the secular context, can be a very powerful tool for helping to improve the way a person's brain works.




  1. 1 Improve Brain Function Through Meditation
    Big Think Editors Big Think Edge
  2. 2 How Meditation Reshapes Your Brain
    Max Miller Going Mental
  3. 3 The Importance of Meditation
    Sharon Gannon
  4. 4 Is The Human Brain Hardwired for God?
    Megan Erickson Think Tank


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