In the early 1990s Andrew Newberg, M.D began to research the intersection between the brain and religious and spiritual experiences. In this work, also sometimes referred to as “neurotheology”, Newberg described the possible neurophysiological mechanisms associated with religious and spiritual experiences.  His initial research included the use of functional brain imaging to study Buddhist meditators and Franciscan nuns in prayer.  This work was eventually published in three books, The Mystical Mind, Why God Won’t Go Away, and Why We Believe What We Believe.

Newberg's research has been featured in Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, and the New Scientist. He has been a guest speaker at the Forum at Grace Cathedral and appeared in the films What the Bleep Do We Know!? and Religulous. He has continued to study religious and spiritual phenomena including topics related to forgiveness, meditation, prayer, spiritual development, morality, and belief. This work has been incorporated more recently into a new Center for Spirituality and the Mind at the University of Pennsylvania.[