There are many ways to study the human brain in modern day using
serval different technique and different type of specialist scientific equipment’s.
Different approaches or technique includes: neuroimaging, neurolistening,
neurostimulation and neuropsychology. Each include each of their own type of
technique to understanding the human brain.
Neuroimaging produces images of the structure of the brain
it can also produce the activity of the brain or the other part of the nervous
by using different type of technique such as MRI (magnetic resonance imagining).
There are two main type of neuroimaging: structural imagining and functional
Structural neuroimaging is the studies of brain anatomy.
Magnetic resonance imagining (MRI) falls under structural neuroimaging as it is
a non-invasive diagnostic technology that use powerful magnet to produce a high
spatial resolution 3D image of the structure of the brain or soft tissues of
which the image is form via hydrogen atom. The strength of MRI scan is that it
is used to detect anomalies in soft organ such as the brain. Another strength
is that MRI scan does not give out radiation therefore it is safe to use for vulnerable
people such as babies or a pregnant person. Limitation of an MRI scan is that
the scan is done in an enclosed space therefore this will be a problem for
someone who is claustrophobic. Another limitation of an MRI scan is that it is
so expensive to operate; a single scan to be done would cost over a million
pound therefore if a patient condition is not urgent they may have to wait
several months to be scan.
A review study by Giedd
and Rapoport (2010) show more understanding toward brains and how brain tissue
type and the brain structure can maturate over time by investigating the
maturational theme where it states that developing children and adolescent shows
an increasing amount of white matter followed by a trajectory of grey matter in
a U shape which occurring in different region at different time.
Another type of technique under neuroimaging is functional
neuroimaging which focuses on the function of the brain however functional
neuroimaging still relies on structural image. Functional magnetic resonance
imaging (fMRI) is a technique used for brain scan to measure the blood flow (oxygenated
blood flow) when patient is performing a task. The strength of fMRI is that it
has good spatial resolution therefore having a good spatial resolution allows
psychologists judge between different brain regions with greater accuracy. Due
to fMRI having great spatial resolution of 1-2 mm it is better than other
technique such as EEG. Another strength of fMRI is it is non-invasive therefore
it is risk free as no radiation are involved compared to another functional
neuroimaging such as Positron Emission Tomography (PET). Limitation of fMRI is
that it has poor temporal resolution as it takes about 1-4 seconds to detect
changes in the brains activity.
Comparison can be made between structural neuroimaging (MRI)
and functional imagining (fMRI) as MRI scan has higher spatial resolution of
1mm compared to fMRI where the spatial resolution is 1-2mm however multiple images
is taken with fMRI and only on image is taken with MRI scan.
One other type of approach to understanding the brain is neuropsychology
which focuses on damaged brain. Neuropsychology focus on case studies such as
patient DF which she was exposed to CO2 for too long therefore she suffered
from carbon monoxide poisoning which resulted in her having a condition known
as Agnosia where CO2 replaced oxygen and brain cell dies due to lack of oxygen
the damaged was extensive as it spread bilateral. Patient DF has the symptoms
such as not being able to copy a picture, she was unable to recognise letter
and digital, she was unable to read, she could not recognise faces either however
able to draw object from memory and was unable to recognise line drawing such
as a book, DF could not tell what a shape is if shown to her but when she interacts
with shape she could tell that shape it is.
A study by Milner et al (1991)
focus on a single case study on patient DF where it shows clearer understanding
of the brain and what happened when part of the brain does not function
properly or has been damage, the study supports that damage to temporal lobe can
result in loss of verbal fluency
Another study about brain
lesion was investigated by Damasio et al (1994) where the focus is around Phineas
Gage and how
In conclusion, advancement in understanding the brain has improved
as there are many different type of technique to look at the brain, each type
of technique will have strengths and limitations as the technique to
understanding the brain are not the same for example MRI scan may have better
spatial resolution however it cost over a million pound to operate one scan.