When spirits speak through the writing hands of Brazilian mediums, there is a drop in activity in parts of the brain involved in language and purposeful activity.
During a trance-like session of psychography, experienced mediums in Brazil allow themselves to become receptive to spirits or dead souls. Then they write automatically, channeling the voices of those they believe to be speaking to them.
As these mediums communicate with the dead, found a new study, parts of their brains involved in language and purposeful activity shut down, alongside other patterns of increased and decreased activity.
The findings add to our limited understanding of how the spiritual brain works, though for now, science cannot speak to the existence of the spirit world.
"I don't think this does anything to make (the experience) less real or less profound or to make it less important in the moment," said Andrew Newberg, a neuroscientist at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.
"At some point, maybe we will design the perfect study that can prove there were not spirits there and this is just a fascinating way that the brain works," he added. "At the moment, all we're really doing is saying that this is what happens in the brain when you do this particular practice."