Author Topic: Muslim prayer may increase alpha waves in the brain  (Read 1898 times)

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Offline Bradoral

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Muslim prayer may increase alpha waves in the brain
« on: September 19, 2015, 02:01:59 AM »
Muslim prayer, or salat, requires the worshiper to move through several distinct bodily postures while reciting specific supplications. The series of postures is fixed, and it’s repeated a number of times for each act of prayer. Worshipers start out standing, then bow at the waist until their upper bodies are parallel with the floor, with their hands pressed against the knees. They then return to a standing position (still reciting supplications, or prayers) before kneeling down to the fully prostrate position – foreheads fully touching the ground. After prostration, worshipers sit up on their knees briefly before returning to a final prostrating. The cycle then starts again. Each stage in this cycle of prayer lasts a few seconds, and the whole cycle lasts between 30 seconds and a full minute.


To study how these different postures might affect brain waves, the researchers fitted the volunteers with EEG monitors around the frontal, central, temporal, parietal, and occipital regions and asked them to complete a series of complete prayer cycles. The volunteers completed one full set of prayers (comprising several cycles) that included both body postures and verbal prayers, or supplications. Then they completed another set with all the postures, but no verbal prayers.


The researchers hypothesized that the volunteers’ brains would show spikes in alpha wave activity during certain phases of the salat, since previous research has strongly suggested a connection between alpha waves – which are associated with relaxation – and religious activities like meditation or prayer. And indeed, they found significant rises in alpha activity in volunteers’ parietal and occipital cortices (the regions near the top and rear of the brain) – but, surprisingly, only during the prostration phase of the salat. In contrast, alpha wave levels didn’t differ much at all between resting state and prayer in the standing, bowing, or kneeling positions.


Interestingly, there was no significant difference between the “actual” salat, or prayer with both postures and supplications, and the “acted” version, which included postures but no spoken prayer. Volunteers showed increased alpha activity during prostrations whether they were actually saying the appropriate prayers or not.

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