Functional Imaging Studies

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Functional Imaging Studies

For centuries scientists were restricted in their ability to study the living human brain. Most studies were either done on animal subjects or in the brains of people after death. While there is no dispute about the valuable information gained by comparing the brain regions damaged in people who suffered from strokes or other accidents, those studies are, by definition, of damaged brains rather than the normal working brain. The past few decades, on the other hand, have revolutionized the study of the brain with the development of new tools that allow scientists to observe the living brain at work, even in people without any disease or injury. While these new techniques have offered new insights, they are not without their limitations, as the literature makes clear. As newspapers and magazines portray images of brain “hot spots” during one mental activity or another, people who are unaware of how those images actually get constructed may come away with a simplistic idea of how the brain functions.

For this Discussion, use the literature to offer an informed view of what functional brain imaging can, and cannot, reveal about the mind at work. Also, consider how you might communicate this complex information to a lay person.

With these thoughts in mind:

Post by Day 4 a brief description of how functional imaging studies are conducted. Then, explain the author’s interpretation of the study’s implications for understanding brain function. Finally, explain how you would describe these results to a layperson. Support your postings and responses with specific references to the literature and Learning Resources.

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