DOI: 10.14704/nq.2010.8.4.358

Sonic Patterns, Spirituality and Brain Function: The Sound Component of Neurotheology

Donald R. Hill, Kevin S. Saroka


Sounds found at ‘sacred sites’ marked by art-rock have been reported to induce altered or mystical states. To determine the neural correlates of these sounds we measured brain activity with a quantitative electroencephalograph (QEEG) while they listened to a binaurally-recorded soundscape derived from one of these locations. We found that the soundscape increased frontal gamma activity, enhanced coherence between the left temporal and right frontal regions, and modulated cingulate activity within the alpha, beta and gamma bands. These results demonstrate that the “sacred” effects of certain patterns of sounds may have a neurobiological basis and can induce configurations of brain function that are associated with altered or mystical states.


sound; altered or mystical states; coherence; quantitative electroencephalography; cingulate cortex

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