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Essay: Brain imaging technologies

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  • Subject area(s): Health essays
  • Reading time: 2 minutes
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  • Published: 3 October 2015*
  • File format: Text
  • Words: 422 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 2 (approx)

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Brain imaging technologies are methods used in neuropsychology which allow researchers to see where specific brain processes take place. They also enable researchers to study localization of function in a living human brain and provide correlations between brain activity and behavior. Examples of the different types of brain imaging technologies used are the Electroencephalogram (EEG), Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT scan), Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), and Positron Emission Tomography (PET scan).
One of the brain imaging technologies I will discussing in this essay is the Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Machine (fMRI). The fMRI is a modification of the regular Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) which is based on the discovery that when the body is exposed to a strong magnetic field, the protons in the water inside the body change their alignment. The fMRI can map metabolic changes that indicate brain activity to provide us with a picture that shows with increasing precision which parts of the brain are active while certain activities are being performed or certain thoughts or emotions occur. The fMRI is more flexible than the MRI in its ability to provide dynamic rather than static. The results are correlation so it is not possible to establish cause and affect relationships.
An example a case study with the use of the fMRI is the Brefczynski-Lewis study from 2007. The aim of this study was to examine differences in brain activity that may have resulted from engaging in medication for a long period of time. It was hypothesized that meditation activates certain parts of the brain that are inactive during rest and that meditators who are more experienced would show less activity because experience has reduced effort needed to sustain attention. The experiment included three groups: the first group included trained meditators, the second group included untrained participants who were just interested in learning, and the third group included participants who were promised money if their attention areas were the most active. During the experiment the participants were told to focus on a dot on a screen while various noises were made to distract them. An fMRI scanned their brains to see if there was a change in brain activity. In conclusion the untrained participants had a harder time concentrating during the distractions, while the trained meditators showed a response to the noise but soon readjusted and were able to focus again. The fMRI showed that the brain is more active during meditation than while at rest and this was due to neuroplasticity in the brain caused by periods of sustained mediation

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