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Dr. Michael Persinger , a neuropsychologist at Canada's Laurentain University in Sudbury, Ontario, believes that religious experiences have their basis in the brain. As Jack Hitt, the author of an article on the research, explains the study's conclusions, "When the right hemisphere of the brain, the seat of emotion, is stimulated in the cerebral region presumed to control notions of self, and then the left hemisphere, the seat of language, is called upon to make sense of this nonexistent entity, the mind generates a 'sensed presence.' "

According to the people Persinger has studied—more than nine hundred so far—this presence may be identified as Elijah, Jesus, an alien, one's grandfather. In short, people interpret this feeling of presence according to their experiences, personal beliefs, and culture.

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