Neuroscience, Selflessness, and Spiritual Experience

Neuroscience, Selflessness, and Spiritual Experience

Explaining the Science of Transcendence

1st Edition - June 15, 2019

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  • Authors: Brick Johnstone, Daniel Cohen
  • eBook ISBN: 9780081022191
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780081022184

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Neuroscience, Selflessness, and Spiritual Transcendence conveys the manner by which selflessness serves as a neuropsychological and religious foundation for spiritually transcendent experiences. The book combines neurological case studies and neuroscience research with religious accounts of transcendence experiences from the perspective of both the neurosciences and the history of religions. Chapters cover the subjective experience of transcendence, an historical summary of different philosophical and religious perspectives, a review of the neuroscience research that describes the manner by which the brain processes and creates a self, and more. The book presents a model that bridges the divide between neuroscience and religion, presenting a resource that will be critical reading for advanced students and researchers in both fields.

Key Features

  • Creates a common focus on selflessness as a reliable construct for use by all disciplines interested in the basis of spiritual experience
  • Links neuroanatomical data with religious texts from multiple faith traditions to describe the necessity of selflessness for spiritual experience and transformation
  • Highlights disorders in neurological functioning that result in disorders of the self


Advanced students and researchers in neuroscience, neurology, neuropsychology, and cognitive science, as well as advanced students and researchers in the humanities (such as religious studies and philosophy) studying the neurobiological underpinnings of spiritual experience

Table of Contents

  • The Nature of Transcendence
    1. Introduction
    2. The Nature of Spiritual Transcendence

    The “Self” and Selflessness
    3. Disorders of the Self
    4. Neuroscience of the Self
    5. Neuropsychology of Spiritual Transcendence

    Selflessness as the Key to Transcendence
    6. Faith Traditions, Spiritual Transcendence, and Selflessness
    7. Universal Neuropsychological Model of Spiritual Transcendence

    Applications of selflessness
    8. Building bridges between Neuroscience and the Humanities

Product details

  • No. of pages: 192
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2019
  • Published: June 15, 2019
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • eBook ISBN: 9780081022191
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780081022184

About the Authors

Brick Johnstone

Dr. Johnstone has expertise in the integration of the neurosciences and humanities, completing two fellowships sponsored by the Templeton Foundation, including one on “Religious Experiences and Moral Behaviours” in Princeton, and one on “Religion and Science” in Oxford, both of which involved internationally renowned theologians, philosophers, and neuroscientists. He has long-term expertise in neuropsychology, having served as the primary investigator of a TBI Model System Center, and was selected by the CDC to serve on an expert panel to write a report on TBI rehabilitation for the federal Congress in 2012. He is the author of more than 90 publications on the neurobiological foundations of spiritual experience

Affiliations and Expertise

Retired Professor, Department of Health Psychology, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA

Daniel Cohen

Dr. Cohen has degrees in anthropology and biology, and his research focuses on the intersection of religious studies, neuropsychology, and neuroscience. He completed a Fulbright-Hays fellowship in India where he studied cultural interpretations and traditional religious resources used in treating mental health disorders (as understood by western standards), physical ailments, and social tensions. He has published numerous articles on the neuropsychology of spiritual experiences, including studies involving U.S. and South Asian populations.

Affiliations and Expertise

Assistant Professor, Department of Religious Studies, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA

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