Beauregard, Mario

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Beauregard, Mario

PERSONAL:

Education: University of Montreal, Ph.D., 1992.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Office—University of Montreal, P.O. Box 6128, Montreal, Quebec H3C 3J7, Canada; fax: 514-343-5787. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Held postdoctoral positions at the University of Texas Medical School, Dallas, and McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; University of Montreal, Montreal, associate professor of radiology and psychology, lab director of the Mind/Brain Research Lab.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Selected by the World Media Net to One Hundred Pioneers of the 21st Century, 2000; Joel F. Lubar Award, International Society for Neuronal Regulation, 2006.

WRITINGS:

(Editor) Consciousness, Emotional Self-Regulation, and the Brain, John Benjamins Publishing (Philadelphia, PA), 2004.

(With Denyse O'Leary) The Spiritual Brain: How Neuroscience Is Revealing the Existence of God, HarperSanFrancisco (San Francisco, CA), 2007.

SIDELIGHTS:

As an associate professor of radiology and psychology and lab director of the Mind/Brain Research Lab of the University of Montreal, Mario Beauregard focuses his research on the neural substrate underlying self-consciousness, volition, and emotion regulation with the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), and multichannel electroencephalography (EEG). His other interests include the neurobiology of spiritual transformation and the mind-brain relationship. Beauregard's work on the neurobiology of mystical experience has aroused international interest. Before joining the staff at Montreal, he conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Texas and McGill University's Montreal Neurological Institute. World Media Net selected Beauregard as one of "One Hundred Pioneers of the 21st Century."

Beauregard is the editor of Consciousness, Emotional Self-regulation, and the Brain, and the author, with journalist Denyse O'Leary, of The Spiritual Brain: How Neuroscience Is Revealing the Existence of God. In the latter volume the authors write that the natural sciences discount the existence of God, but that materialists can't prove this assumption. They draw on Beauregard's research, and in particular a neural study of Carmelite nuns who experienced deep states while in prayer, which leads the authors to contend that religious experiences cannot be sufficiently explained with physical theories. The brain, they write, cannot account for spiritual experiences even though it is central to them. Beauregard writes that mystical experiences demonstrate the existence of spiritual beings and the probability that God also exists. He feels that the mind has power over the brain, which is why we can control our fears and thoughts and overcome phobias and disorders.

In an interview posted on the Web site of HarperCollins, Beauregard was asked if there is a God gene, an idea that he said does not make scientific sense. "There is no gene that determines whether a person will be religious. However, genes do help determine a personality type (active vs. passive, for example). So if a person is attracted to spirituality, genes may help determine the type of spirituality. But that is all genes can do. They do not create any spirituality." When asked if neuroscience can demonstrate the existence of God, he replied: "No, because God cannot be compelled to serve as a subject in neuroscience research." Beauregard added that nonmaterialist neuroscience can demonstrate that the brain and the mind are not the same thing. It can also provide an understanding of near death experiences and telepathy, and that although these phenomena are not proof of the existence of God, "they are consistent with it."

"Beauregard argues well in clear, readable prose, avoiding highly technical language," wrote James F. DeRoche in Library Journal. John F. Kavanaugh, writing in America, felt that this volume would be appreciated by philosophers, theologians, scientists, and healthcare professionals. He commented that it may not be technical enough for the scientist while being too technical for the lay reader. Kavanaugh felt that sidebars and quotations might be appreciated by some, but not by all. He also found both the title and the subtitles to be problematic. As to the title, Kavanaugh contended that the brain is not spiritual but matter. He added that for some the soul "is a religious concept, pertaining only to what is called the human soul. But in its history the notion of soul is a philosophical one. It is not dependent on any religious belief. The most historically grounded notion of the soul is found in Aristotle (and other traditions). Soul refers not to some spiritual or religious reality; it refers only to the fact that something is alive. Thus, for Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, animals and even plants have a soul, understood as any organism's dynamic organizing principle of self-development and elaboration."

A Publishers Weekly contributor concluded a review of The Spiritual Brain by writing that it is "a lively introduction to a field where neuroscience, philosophy, and secular/spiritual cultural wars are unavoidably intermingled."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

America, December 24, 2007, John F. Kavanaugh, review of The Spiritual Brain: How Neuroscience Is Revealing the Existence of God, p. 34.

Library Journal, September 1, 2007, James F. DeRoche, review of The Spiritual Brain, p. 141.

Publishers Weekly, June 11, 2007, review of The Spiritual Brain, p. 54.

ONLINE

HarperCollins Web site,http://www.harpercollins.com/ (March 14, 2008), profile.

University of Montreal Mind/Brain Research Lab,http://www.mapageweb.umontreal.ca/beauregm/ (March 14, 2008), brief biography.

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