Religious and spiritual experiences activate the brain reward circuits in much the same way as love, sex, gambling, drugs and music, a new study has claimed.

Researchers at the University of Utah in the US specifically set out to determine which brain networks are involved in representing spiritual feelings in one group, devout Mormons, by creating an environment that triggered participants to “feel the Spirit.”

Identifying this feeling of peace and closeness with God in oneself and others is a critically important part of Mormon’s lives they make decisions based on these feelings; treat them as confirmation of doctrinal principles; and view them as a primary means of communication with the divine, researchers said. “We are just beginning to understand how the brain participates in experiences that believers interpret as spiritual, divine or transcendent,” said Jeff Anderson from University of Utah.

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