Discuss the use of brain imaging in investigating the relationship between biological factors and behavior.


Case Study

PET: Positron Emission Topography
Hainer et al (1988)

Blair et al (1999)

CAT: Computerized Axial Tomography

MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging

fMRI: functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging

EEG: Electroencephalogram

Prezi: Brain Imaging

Case Studies: Raine et al (1997) and Ramachandran and Hirstein (1998)

- The technologies that are used to investigate the brain structures such as:

- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) which takes a three dimensional still picture of the brain which the use of radio waves.

- There are other technologies like fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) which measures the action of blood and oxygen in your brain which creates a moving colored image of metabolism in the brain.

- There is another method called PET (positron emission tomography) which detects the metabolism level of injected substances like glucose which is made mildly radioactive with the help of X-ray scan, it shows the part of the brain that is most active at a certain time period.

- These technologies can be used to monitor the brain action when related to emotion and behavior when being scanned.

- Psychologists try to investigate the relationship between biological factors and behavior.

- One method to monitor behavior was to ask some people to come in and volunteer to have a scan of their brain and to understand the biological factors that affect behavior they would use pictures to arouse the emotions in the volunteers.

- As an example the psychologists would ask for a person who had a love life and when getting the fMRI to show them a picture of the person they love and when recording they would see that there is a an flow of blood into her/his brain which showed an emotion running through their mind.

- Biological factors of this experiment are that the feeling arousal in people from the picture of someone or something they care about is what makes people happy and/or sad and that is what rationalizes our behaviors.

- The relationship between biological factors and behavior is that behavior follows our biological factors, which consist of arousal and that our behaviors are how we interpret what we are seeing.

- Studies that have used these technologies are:

- Banu Ahtam

- Eleanor Maguire and Demis

- Carnegie Mellon

- Paul Elias

- There are a few advantages and disadvantages of using scans:

- Scans can gain information about the brain structure and function of conscious patients, some while they are performing psychological tasks that would not be possible with other methods
- Some scans are non-invasive
- Expensive
- Difficult to interpret (possible researcher bias)
- Sensitivity to disruption, e.g. small movements
- Unnatural and uncomfortable environment for cognition (ecological validity problem)