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Cognitive Science 11: Strategies for Brain Mapping

08/10/2013

This chapter look at how the sub-systems of the brain are connected. This is tricky, because the sub-systems are not necessarily split up by brain section, so the information flow may get quite complicated.

Structure and function in the brain

Using a variety of staining techniques, a map of connectivity in the brain can be created. This is done mostly on animal subjects since it requires looking at the cells under a microscope. This also can’t be done during cognitive functions. I wonder if any terminal patients could ethically donate their living working brains to science, and allow themselves to be studied while still alive.

Studying cognitive function

This can be done by studying the brain’s electrical activity (EEG, MEG) and the flow and oxygen content of blood in the brain (PET, fMRI). These methods suffer from a unique set of shortcomings. EEG and MEG methods have high temporal resolution (can pinpoint short periods of time), but low spatial resolution (can only look at general areas). PET and fMRI methods are the opposite. And then there’s the single unit recording, which may be a bit too close up and specific to get as much info as we’d like.

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