Andrew B. Newberg

Andrew B. Newberg

Andrew Newberg, M.D. is an Associate Professor of Radiology and Psychiatry in the School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He has been a prominent researcher in the field of nuclear medicine brain imaging. In particular, his research has focused on the development of neurotransmitter tracers for the evaluation of neurological and psychiatric disorders including clinical depression, head injury, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease.

In the early 1990s, he began to research the intersection between the brain and religious and spiritual experiences. In this work, also sometimes referred to as “neurotheology”, Newberg described the possible neurophysiological mechanisms associated with religious and spiritual experiences.Begley, Sharon. " [ Religion And The Brain] ", Newsweek, 2001-05-07.] His initial research included the use of functional brain imaging to study Buddhist meditators [Newberg AB, Alavi A, Baime M, Pourdehnad M, Santanna J, d'Aquili EG. The measurement of regional cerebral blood flow during the complex cognitive task of meditation: A preliminary SPECT study. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging 106: 113-122, 2001.] and Franciscan nuns in prayer [Newberg A, Pourdehnad M, Alavi A, d’Aquili E. Cerebral blood flow during meditative prayer: Preliminary findings and methodological issues. Perceptual and Motor Skills 97: 625-630, 2003.] . This work was eventually published in three books, "The Mystical Mind", "Why God Won’t Go Away", and "Why We Believe What We Believe".

Newberg's research has been featured in "Newsweek," the "Los Angeles Times," and the "New Scientist." He has been a guest speaker at the Forum at Grace Cathedralcite web |url= |title= God in Our Minds? |author= Guests: Andrew Newberg, University of Pennsylvania Health System researcher in neurophysiology, and Noreen Herzfeld, St. John's University professor of theology and computer science |work= The Forum at Grace Cathedral |date= 6 May 2001 |quote= (Includes RealAudio links).] and appeared in the film "What the Bleep Do We Know!?" He has continued to study religious and spiritual phenomena including topics related to forgiveness, meditation, prayer, spiritual development, morality, and belief. This work has been incorporated more recently into a new Center for Spirituality and the Mind at the University of Pennsylvania. [“New Center for Spirituality and the Mind at Penn Unites Intellectual Resources” Newswise (April 25, 2006).]

Professional life

Newberg received his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and trained in Internal Medicine at the Graduate Hospital in Philadelphia and in Nuclear Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He is currently Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Nuclear Medicine. Because of his work in the intersection between religion and the brain, he has become an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also the Director of the Center for Spirituality and the Mind at the University of Pennsylvania.

Literary activities

Newberg is the author of three books, and numerous articles on neuroimaging in neuropsychiatric disorders and also on neuroscience and religion. His book, "Why God Won’t Go Away", is a popularized account of this topic which describes some of the brain imaging studies and his theories regarding the nature of religious and spiritual experiences. A more recent book, "Why We Believe What We Believe", describes the relationship between the brain and beliefs and also describes brain imaging studies of an atheist and individuals speaking in tongues (or glossolalia). [“Tongues on the Mind”. Science (November 10, 2006).]


Newberg’s research has been criticized from two main perspectives. From the religious perspective, concerns have been raised that the study of practices such as meditation does not necessary extrapolate to the broader array of religious and spiritual phenomena. However, Newberg tends to agree with this concern and has argued that future studies are needed to elucidate the more complex elements of religious and spiritual phenomena. From the non-religious perspective, Newberg has been criticized for not ultimately reducing religion to brain function. [“Are Humans Hard-Wired for Faith” CNN Website. (April 5, 2007).] Newberg has maintained that science and brain imaging studies are only tools to evaluate the brain during such experiences but do not necessarily negate such experiences. However, this has also raised the concern as to whether or not such information will eventually lead to a better understanding of the true nature of religious experiences. Newberg has argued that the integration of science and religion is critical for a better understanding of how human beings think and behave in a global context.


*"The Mystical Mind: Probing the Biology of Religious Experience", Augsburg Fortress Press, 1999, softcover, ISBN 0-8006-3163-3
*"Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief", Ballantine, 2002, softcover, ISBN 0-34544-034X
*"Why We Believe What We Believe: Uncovering Our Biological Need for Meaning, Spirituality, and Truth" (coauthored with Mark Robert Waldman), Free Press, 2006, hardback, ISBN 0-7432-7497-0

External links

* [] - official site


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