ways of studying the brain

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  • studying the brain
    • fMRI
      • measures blood flow when a task is performed; neurons in the brain most active use most energy; creates 3D map of brain by detecting diff magnetic qualities of deoxygenated haemoglobin than oxygenated & shows areas involved in different neural activities
      • approx. 1-4 seconds after activity occurs; accurate within 1-2 mm
      • + non-invasive/ doesn't use radiation so risk free; good spatial resolution so more accurate when discriminating diff brain regions; - poor temporal resolution so unable to predict onset of brain activity w/ high accuracy; doesn't show cause & arguably only show localisation of function not communication
    • EEG
      • info is processed in brain as electrical activity in form of APs/ nerve impulses transmitted along neurons; measures this activity through electrodes attached to scalp & graphed indicating level of activity
      • exams amplitude & frequency of A, B, T & D waves (synchronised: waveform detected; desynchronised: no pattern)
      • + non-invasive; cheaper than fMRI so more widely available & give psychologists more data; good temporal resolution 1-10 ms; - poor spatial resolution so unable to provide info on activity in deeper brain regions; patient discomfort may affect readings; can be difficult to know exact area of activity so less accuracy
    • ERP
      • similar to EEG; stimulus presented to ppt & researcher looks for activity related to stimulus (averaging - difficult to separate from background data so present many times & average response graphed
      • very short latency = interval between stimulus & response (sensory ERPs occur within 100 milliseconds & after = cognitive ERPs)
      • + non-invasive; cheaper than fMRI so more widely available & give psychologists more data; good temporal resolution 1-10 ms; - poor spatial resolution so unable to provide info on activity in deeper brain regions; patient discomfort may affect readings; can be difficult to know exact area of activity so less accuracy
      • + can eliminate extraneous neural sctivity
    • post mortem
      • studying the physical brain that possibly suggested brain damage when alive
      • + helped  to understand disorders i.e. schiz had more dopamine than ppl w/o; allows examination of deeper regions i.e hippocampus & hypothalamus
      • - unable to conclude that deficits are caused by damage  in brain as may be result of another illness; extraneous/ confounding variables i.e. age, medication, time of death; ethics - informed conent
    • allows psychologists to gain insights into underlying foundations of behaviour/ mental processes

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