Association of posterior EEG alpha with prioritization of religion or spirituality: A replication and extension at 20-year follow-up

Biol Psychol. 2017 Mar;124:79-86. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2017.01.005. Epub 2017 Jan 22.


A prior report (Tenke et al., 2013 Biol. Psychol. 94:426-432) found that participants who rated religion or spirituality (R/S) highly important had greater posterior alpha after 10 years compared to those who did not. Participants who subsequently lowered their rating also had prominent alpha, while those who increased their rating did not. Here we report EEG findings 20 years after initial assessment. Clinical evaluations and R/S ratings were obtained from 73 (52 new) participants in a longitudinal study of family risk for depression. Frequency PCA of current source density transformed EEG concisely quantified posterior alpha. Those who initially rated R/S as highly important had greater alpha compared to those who did not, even if their R/S rating later increased. Furthermore, changes in religious denomination were associated with decreased alpha. Results suggest the possibility of a critical stage in the ontogenesis of R/S that is linked to posterior resting alpha.

Keywords: Current source density (CSD); Depression risk; Development; EEG alpha; Principal components analysis (PCA); Religion and spirituality.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alpha Rhythm / physiology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Religion*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Identification
  • Spirituality*