The Awakened Brain

Laszlo Zsolnai’s review on Lisa Miller’s book “The Aawkened Brain” has been published in Journal of Management, Spirituality & Religion 19(5) October 2022. pp. 546-549. DOI: https://doi.org/10.51327/YYAK1825

Lisa Miller is a professor of psychology at Columbia University who has a joint appointment at Columbia Teachers College and Columbia Medical School. She is a well-known scholar in the field of spirituality and depression and serves as the founding director of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Columbia University.

Lisa Miller and her colleagues studied the brain structures of depressed and non-depressed people to see how spirituality is associated with brain structure, and how spirituality is correlated with the risk of depression. Their magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings showed that “the high-spiritual brain was healthier and more robust than the low spiritual brain. And the high-spiritual brain was thicker and stronger in exactly the same regions that weaken and wither in depressed brains” Accordingly, it appears that spirituality protects people against mental suffering.

Overall, Lisa Miller’s research revealed that spiritual experiences become visible in the brain in three significant ways: (i) an involuntary reorientation of attention, (ii) a sense of love or embrace consistent with intimate attachment or bonding, and (iii) a sense of self that is both distinct and part of the greater oneness.

Lisa Miller has been involved in education for a long time. She recalls that “late adolescence and early adulthood is a time of emergence for both spirituality and depression” This shows the importance of spiritual education. Dr. Miller initiated the Awakened Campus program at Columbia University.