Toward animal spirituality.

Whether or not you think a “soul” is a neurological phenomenon or something else, you might wonder, along with Discovery News, what it really means if animals have out-of-body-experiences:

“Since only humans are capable of language that can communicate the richness of spiritual experience, it is unlikely we will ever know with certainty what an animal subjectively experiences,” Kevin Nelson, a professor of neurology at the University of Kentucky, told Discovery News.

“Despite this limitation, it is still reasonable to conclude that since the most primitive areas of our brain happen to be the spiritual, then we can expect that animals are also capable of spiritual experiences,” added Nelson, author of the book The Spiritual Doorway in the Brain, which will be published in January 2011.

Mystical experiences — moments that inspire a sense of mystery and wonderment — arise within the limbic system, he said. When specific parts of this system are removed from animal brains, mind-altering drugs like LSD have no effect.

Since other animals, such as non-human primates, horses, cats and dogs, also possess similar brain structures, it is possible that they too experience mystical moments, and may even have a sense of spiritual oneness, according to Nelson.

Nelson’s research also suggests some physiological reasons for the kinds of things that happen during near-death experiences – like the “traveling through a tunnel” feeling that comes from low blood-flow through the eyes.

Found [via].