You are on page 1of 2

Discuss the use of brain imaging technology investigating the relationship between biological factors and behavior Brain

imaging technologies are used at the biological level of analysis. They are methods used to examine the human brain. This type of research, not being experimental, is very useful in neuropsychology because it provide an opportunity to study the activity of the brain. It helps researchers to study different localization of function. It also provides correlations between activity and behavior though it does not necessarily show a cause and effect relationship. However, different brain imaging technologies have helped us discover a lot about the brain activity. This method is non invasive which is ethical and practical. I will be looking at four different brain imaging technology; CT scans, MRI, fMRI and the PET scan. The CT scan is an X-ray imaging technology that produces a 3D image of the brain. This shows human bones but not soft tissues. This allows researchers to gain information about changes in brain structure. CT scans are useful for showing structural damage in the brain such as abnormality and brain tumor. They are also the least expensive brain imaging technology. However CT scans does not show function of the brain and the exposure of X-ray radiation can cause health problems. A famous case study by Ogden of a woman who died of a brain tumor showed a phoneme called hemineglect. The CT scan was able to detect the brain tumor on the right side of the partial lobe. The findings showed that the brain tumor of the right side of the brain was making Janet neglect her left side space. MRI uses magnetic field to reproduce an image of the internal structure of the tissues in someones brain. The MRI is useful to show the blood flow in all regions of the brain and can show circulation problems. It is very helpful to detect Alzheimers disease, as it is a safe because it doesnt use radioactive substances. However it is expensive and only focuses on localized functions. Therefore the results are correlational not causation and cannot establish a cause and effect relationship. Patients with metallic implants and pacemakers cannot use the MRI due to the magnetic field. A study done my Ashtari et al. investigated the damage of marijuana substance abuse in teenagers. They scanned 14 young marijuana users and 14 young non-marijuana uses as control group. The results of the MRI showed abnormalities in the frontal lobe and the development of myelin was affected and this could explain information processing in the brain. The researchers concluded that early use of marijuana effected the brain development. However the study only provide correlational data. The fMRI is similar to the MRI and is used to produce an image of the brain. The fMRI detects blood oxygenation compared to the MRI, which detects magnetic field. This method is non-invasive compares to the PET scan. It can record singles from all region of the brain unlike the EEG. It is easier to look at localizing activity during task and more precise then with a PET scan. However, the CT scan produces an image that must be interpreted since correlation does not imply causality. The focus is more of localized function in the brain and does not

take account the distributed nature of processing. A study done with the fMRI was a famous study by Harris. His aim was to find a biological correlation of stereotypes and prejudice. He used the fMRI to study students brain processes when showed a picture of typical ethnic groups Results showed that the brain region related to disgust was active showing a dehumanization of the outgroups. Another method of brain imagining is the PET scan. The PET scan monitors glucose levels in the brain-allowing researcher to look at brain activity. The PET scans produces colored maps of brain activity by detecting the radioactive particles injected into the participant before having the scan. We can see areas of the brain in activity when different task are in demanded such as eating, recalling memory. A study, which uses the PET scan to investigate the results of brain damage on behavior, is a well knows study by Raine et al. Their aim was to discover by using the PET scan if murders that pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI) show evidence of brain abnormality. They asked 41 participants with NGRI and 41 participants without NGRI to perform tasks in the PET scan. The results showed that NGRI had less activity in the pre-frontal cortex, which is linked to self-control and emotion. The findings concluded that there was a link between the per-frontal cortex and crime (behavior). Unlike the fMRI scan they record ongoing activity in the brain. The scan also allows researcher to compare the difference between normal and abnormal brains. However the scans are not as clear and the one produced by the fMRI. They are invasive because they require an injection of radioactive substance, which can cause health problems. They normally take a long time and arent suitable for pregnant people and claustrophobic people. Some patients are allergic to the tracer. Brain imaging technologies have help researchers investigate without being experimental, to understand different part of the brain related to different behaviors. However ecological validity is affected due to the setting is no normal/natural that can affect the patient. Most studies done with the brain imaging technologies are case studies and findings are hard to generalize to the population. Brain imaging technology only shows structures and activity in the brain therefore it is not possible to determine a cause and effect relationship.