Methods Used to Study the Brain

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A variety of procedures are used by psychologists to study the functions of different areas of the brain. Some of them are very old methods and outdated; some of them are most recent in origin and frequently used by modern investigators. The methods help us to study the localization of the functional areas of the brain.

One of these methods is the stimulation method. A specific part of the brain may be stimulated either by electric current or by chemicals. Through electrical stimulation, we can only stimulate the desired part of the brain. But by chemical methods, we can stimulate or defunct a particular part of the brain for a fixed period of time and observe their effects on behavior.

Another method is the Electrical Recording or Action Potential Method.The rhythmical electrical discharges of the brain are recorded by an instrument called electroencephalogram (EEG). The EEG can detect minute electrical activities of the brain cells during sleep, arousal and activity. The brain parts having greatest electrical activity can be linked with behaviors and sensations of the body. This will tell how the body surfaces are represented in the brain.

The Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT) is a newer method in which thousands of separate X-rays are taken at slightly different angles, and the computer constructs an image of the structures of the brain by combining these X-rays. It is very useful for showing abnormalities in the structure of the brain such as swelling and enlargement of certain parts. But it does not provide information about brain activity.

Another method is Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). It produces a strong magnetic field in which the person's head is positioned. The radio waves directed at the brain cause the hydrogen atoms to emit signals, which are analyzed by a computer. The details of the MRI are superior to CAT scan, because it can distinguish between closely related brain structures.

Due to its importance, you might think the brain...
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