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Measuring Brain Activity

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Measuring Brain Activity

Most of the noninvasive imaging methods estimate brain activity by changes in blood flow, oxygen consumption, glucose utilization, etc. Discuss the potential problems with using this type of indirect measure.

The brain is the control center of the human body. It sends and receives millions of signals every second, day and night, in the form of hormones, nerve impulses, and chemical messengers. This exchange of information makes us move, eat, sleep, and think.

Obstructions such as tumors can interrupt normal brain activity, leading to deficits of normal reasoning, motor control, or consciousness. Many of the signs of neural damage are easily recognizable by an outside observer, but since the actual cause of these problems are internal, the symptoms can be vague. The real deficits can affect the brain's anatomy, or the way signals are processed. A physician can only determine the real cause by examining the brain internally to find irregularities, either in structure or in functioning.

Since the brain is extremely fragile and difficult to access without risking further damage, imaging techniques are used frequently as a noninvasive method of visualizing the brain's structure and activity. Today's technology provides many useful tools for studying the brain. But even with our highest technology out there we do not know everything definitely. We do have fallbacks at times and these fallbacks can lead to serious problems.

The recent advances in non-invasive brain imaging, increased computational power, and advances in signal processing methods have heightened the research in this area. As we make progress in interpreting noninvasive brain signals in time we will begin to explore applications that go beyond treatment. But for now these noninvasive methods of estimating brain activity is still something to be cautious about since it only measures the brain's blood, oxygen consumption, glucose utilization, and more. These measurements may not be accurate enough to figure out one person's problem. The problem again might be internal and measuring only the obvious would not aid in figuring it all out.

Other problems with using these noninvasive imaging methods of only few changes of variables in the brain's activity are that maybe the problem does not reside in the blood, oxygen intake, or glucose utilization. It



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