Brain Imaging Techniques

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Natalie Drossoyianni I.B 1
Psychology HL

Discuss the use of technology in investigating cognitive processes.

Technology has been very useful for the past few years in investigating cognitive process. With the use of neuro-imaging techniques, researchers can examine brain structure and function, and thus understand better the relationship between cognition and physiology. The basic neuro-imaging techniques are the PET, the MRI, and THE fMRI scan. The PET or else the positron emission tomography is used to detect brain tumors or memory disorders caused by the Alzheimer’s disease. This is done through measuring brain functions such as glucose consumption and blood flow. By identifying the cellular level metabolic changes in an organ or tissue it can be seen whether the patient suffers from any disorder. However, to do so the patient is injected with a harmless dose of radioactive glucose, the radioactive particles of which are detected by the scan. The scan produces colored maps of brain activity. A classical study which used the PET scan is a longitudinal study where the researchers followed 53 healthy and normal participants for either nine or twenty-four years. Through the PET scan they found that people who had reduced cellular metabolism in the region of the hippocampus were associated with the Alzheimer’s disease. One of the researchers of team argues that the results should be replicated; however, a great advantage of this new brain imaging technique could be very useful to detect and prevent the Alzheimer’s disease. Another very useful brain imaging technique is the MRI, or in other words, the magnetic resonance imaging technique. This technique offers a three dimensional picture of the brain and it works by detecting changes in the use of oxygen in the blood by magnetic fields and radio waves. When the use of oxygen is high in one area it means that this particular area is more active. This technique is vaguely used to see what areas of the brain are...
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