Brain imaging was done on a small group of Pentecostal Christians while they were listening to prayers given by three different people. They were told that the prayers would be given by a non-Christian, an "ordinary" Christian and a Charismatic Christian who had a healing ministry. Each person was identified to the group before the praying began. In reality, all three were "ordinary" (I assume they mean non-Pentecostal) Christians.
What the scientists observed was that
specific regions of the pentecostalist's brains became somewhat activated when listening to the prayer from the 'non-believer', but highly deactivated when listening to the prayer from the 'charismatic healer'. The prayer from the ordinary Christian resulted in deactivation too, but on a small scale.This is very interesting and I think it may explain why many Christians truly are brainwashed.
And the regions that were deactivated by the "charismatic healer" were all associated with "executive function" - the part of the mind that evaluates, monitors, and makes decisions. A similar response has been seen in the brains of people undergoing hypnosis - as well as meditation.
In other words, they went into a bit of a trance.
What Schjødt thinks is happening here is that, when we listen someone we trust implicitly, we switch off our critical faculties, and just let what they are saying wash over us. In the words of the researchers, "subjects suspend or 'hand over' their critical faculty to the trusted person."
In all fairness, I don't think its only Christians who may be guilty of this. I think it is probably a human tendency to "let our guard down" and accept what we hear from those that we know agree with us. This is no doubt true regardless of the ideology involved. In other words, a person who is conservative politically is going to be less critical in listening to another conservative and a liberal will be less critical listening to another liberal.
What does this teach us? I think it shows us that it is imperative to be just as analytical and critical in listening to those with whom we agree as with those with whom we disagree.