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Brain Imaging Technologies

LO: Discuss the use of brain imaging technologies

in investigating the relationship between biological
factors and behavior.

4 types of Brain Imaging Technology

How each works

What each is used for
Several strengths of each
Several limitations of each
Brain Imaging Technologies

Can be used to:

investigate structure (brain anatomy)
investigate function (brain activity)
investigate damage
add support to prior findings

Results of BIT research is ALWAYS correlational, NEVER causation.

(But can become causation when triangulated)

Continually evolving
1. EEG: Electroencephalogram
Facts on the EEG

What is it for?
To measure brain activity (in
the form of brain waves)

How does it work?

Small metal discs with electrodes are placed on
the scalp and measure electrical activity in the
brain. This is recorded as brain waves through a
computer print-out.
Strengths and Limitations

Strengths: Limitations

One of the first BIT (1930s) Only reveals electrical

activity close to the surface,
Often used in research on:
cant get deep into the brain
Only reveals where the
epilepsy electrodes are placed
CT Scan: Computerized Tomography
Previously CAT scan: Computerized Axial Tomography
CT Scan: Computerized Tomography
Previously CAT scan: Computerized Axial Tomography

Became popular in the 70s

Computer enhanced Xray

Shows bones and soft tissue (structure)

Can be shot from any angle--shown as slices

Pros: Inexpensive, widely used,

Cons: Xray Radiation, only shows structure not function

2. PET: Positron Emission Topography
PET: Positron Emission Topography

Examines Brain Function (activity)

Injection of Radioactive glucose

Changes color based on blood flow or metabolic activity

Color shows area where brain is active

Used to diagnose Alzheimer's, schizophrenia

Strengths: Beyond structure--can show activity

Limits: Cant prove WHY its lighting up

3.MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging
MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Widespread since 1980s

Uses magnetic fields, radio waves, and computer to take 2D

images of slices of the brain. Shows Structure only

Magnet changes proton alignment in body water

Strengths: non-invasive, non-radiation, more precise, can be


Limitations: Not a natural environmentartificial research,

shading may be exaggerated, patient distress, cant have metal
4.fMRI: Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging
fMRI: Functional Magnetic

Like an MRI and PET scan--shows structure and function

Injection that measures blood flow based on oxygen needed

for activity

Strengths: Most advanced and recent, Good resolution,

shows on-going thinking

Limitations: Expensive, time delay, can get false positives,

some colors hidden or exaggerated
Lets Watch a Ted Talk
While you watchlook for these things:

How did BIT research add support for prior understandings

about faces?

How was replication used?

How did triangulation with a case study help lead to causation?

What are some limitations of brain imaging technology


How can BIT be wrong?