I came across this ABC report while looking for items on speaking in tongues – the peculiar practice of talking gibberish that is popular among Pentecostal Christians. Speaking in tongues or “glossolalia” appears to be another example where individuals seek an altered state – which they interpret was evidence of the holy spirit.
The study is now a bit dated and I wonder if there has been any follow-up, but Andrew Neuberg (the “God – spotter neuroscientist) reported back in 2006 that speaking in tongues is associated with increased emotional arousal and reduced frontal activity compared to praying in English. The news reports seem to make alot out of this difference (that’s the media for you) but I am not really too surprised. Speaking in English in a meaningful way (even praying!)y requires effortful thinking whereas talking gibberish clearly doesn’t and if you like talking gibberish, then no wonder your arousal centres are activated. Still, I thought it was interesting…. or should I say, “Plehu, bhat, plehu, gibita kalis”