Advisory Board

Dr. Mario Beauregard

The Scientific American article Searching for God in the Brain said

The doughnut-shaped machine swallows the nun, who is outfitted in a plain T-shirt and loose hospital pants rather than her usual brown habit and long veil. She wears earplugs and rests her head on foam cushions to dampen the device’s roar, as loud as a jet engine. Supercooled giant magnets generate intense fields around the nun’s head in a high-tech attempt to read her mind as she communes with her deity.
 
The Carmelite nun and 14 of her Catholic sisters have left their cloistered lives temporarily for this claustrophobic blue tube that bears little resemblance to the wooden prayer stall or sparse room where such mystical experiences usually occur. Each of these nuns answered a call for volunteers “who have had an experience of intense union with God” and agreed to participate in an experiment devised by neuroscientist Mario Beauregard of the University of Montreal. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Beauregard seeks to pinpoint the brain areas that are active while the nuns recall the most powerful religious epiphany of their lives, a time they experienced a profound connection with the divine. The question: Is there a God spot in the brain?

Mario Beauregard, Ph.D. is associate researcher at University of Montreal (Departments of Psychology and Radiology, Neuroscience Research Center). He is the author of more than 100 publications in neuroscience, psychology and psychiatry. Because of his research into the neuroscience of consciousness, he was selected by the World Media Net to be among the “One Hundred Pioneers of the 21st Century.”
 
His groundbreaking work on the neurobiology of emotion and mystical experience at the University of Montreal has received international media coverage. In 2006, he received the Joel F. Lubar award for his contribution to the field of neurotherapy. The National Film Board of Canada has recently produced a documentary film about his work titled The Mystical Brain.
 
Mario authored The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul in collaboration with science writer Denyse O’Leary. He also edited Consciousness, Emotional Self-Regulation and the Brain, and coauthored Neural Correlates of Conscious Self-Regulation of Emotion, Neural circuitry underlying voluntary suppression of sadness, The Neural Substrate for Concrete, Abstract, and Emotional Word Lexica: A Positron Emission Tomography Study, “Change the mind and you change the brain”: effects of cognitive-behavioral therapy on the neural correlates of spider phobia, and Quantum physics in neuroscience and psychology: a neurophysical model of mind-brain interaction.
 
Mario earned his B.Sc. in Psychology at the University of Montreal in 1985 and his Ph.D. in Neurological Sciences at the University of Montreal in 1992.