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Similarities in Brain Responses to Religious Icons and Consumer Goods

Neurologists [once] scanned the brains of people of faith as they recalled and reexperienced the times they felt close to God, either in prayer, worship, or solitude. Then they exposed the same people to stained glass, the smell of incense, icons, and other religious images that connected people to God. The same specific area of the brain (called the caudate nucleus) lit up in all of these people when they felt connected to God. The caudate nucleus is not a "God spot," just the part of our brain that is activated when we feel connected to the divine.

It gets even more interesting. The neurologists similarly tested another group, but this time exposed them to material possessions. When they showed images of products that were tied to "cool" brands, the exact same area of the brain lit up. The neuroscientists discovered that people who bought certain items experienced the same sensations as those who had deep religious experiences.

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