Neuroscience and World Religions: Different Practices, Different Brains, Different Spiritualities?


Stephen Kaplan

Stephen Kaplan is Professor of Religious Studies at Manhattan College specializing in Indian and comparative religions. He is the author of two books and has published numerous articles in leading journals, including the Journal of the American Academy of Religion and the International Journal of Hindu Studies. He is currently working on a book entitled Advaita Vedanta and the Neurosciences. Additionally, Stephen has worked over the past two decades as a community organizer in the establishment of three New York City public schools.

Daniel Drubach

Daniel Drubach, MD, is a specialist in neurology, psychiatry, and neurorehabilitation. Currently a member of the Behavioral Neurology Division at Mayo Clinic, he has written extensively on the neuroscience of music, meditation, language, and religion. He has also published several articles discussing how the application of newly discovered neuroscience concepts can help us answer some of man's existential questions about free choice, empathy for another living being, and mystical experiences. He is the author of The Brain Explained.

William Waldron

William Waldron is Professor of Religion at Middlebury College, Vermont, where he teaches courses on Buddhism, Hinduism, and the Study of Religion and has served as Chair of the Department of Religion. He received his B.A. in South Asian Studies and his Ph. D. in Buddhist Studies from the University of Wisconsin, after working extensively with native teachers and scholars in India, Nepal and Japan. In addition to his monograph on Yogācāra Buddhism entitled The Buddhist Unconscious, he has published numerous articles comparing Buddhist and modern theories of mind from evolutionary biology, cognitive science, and sociology. Bill is also a recent Fulbright Senior Scholar in Nepal, where he taught courses in the Department of Buddhist Studies at Tribhuvan University as well as the Centre for Buddhist Studies, affiliated with Kathmandu University.  He is currently researching the relation between theories of mind in the Yogācāra school of Indian Buddhism and in modern cognitive sciences.

Prantik Kundu

Prantik Kundu is an NIH-Cambridge Scholar (Ph.D. candidate) studying neuroscience with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in collaboration with the Brain Mapping Unit at the University of Cambridge, UK and the Section on Functional Imaging Methods at the National Institute of Mental Health in Washington, DC. His papers have been published in Cerebral Cortex, NeuroImage, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Kundu also has strong interests in Indic philosophy, having completed an undergraduate independent study on the theoretical implications of Kali and having been a Research Fellow at the Mind and Life Summer Institute, where the interface between the Buddhist philosophy and the neurosciences is investigated and practiced.