Michiel van Elk
Principle Investigator / Associate Professor
People of all times and cultures have endorsed religious beliefs and have had encounters with the supernatural. The PRSM lab investigates how these beliefs and experiences come about. We investigate the proximate mechanisms underlying religious experiences (e.g., as induced through psychedelics), as well as the ultimate mechanisms (e.g., the role of socio-cultural learning and evolution).
Mystical experiences are characterised by feelings of unity, insight and ineffability. A key question in the study of mystical experiences concerns whether these experiences reflect a universal, deeply engrained prototype, or whether they are shaped and constructed through cultural learning. We aim to develop a new philosophy of mystical experiences, and to unravel the psychological and neural processes underlying these experiences.