Measuring the Mind: Techniques for Recording Brain Activityand Understanding Brain Functioning

The human brain is one of the most complex organs in the human body. Some techniques that may be used for studying the human brain include:

Electroencephalogram (EEG)

The main use of an EEG is to detect and investigate epilepsy, a condition that causes repeated seizures. An EEG will help doctor identify the type of epilepsy you have, what may be triggering your seizures and how best to treat you.

in this electrodes placed over the scalp to record the electrical activity of the brain, especially the cerebral cortex. The recording of potential differences on the scalp caused by brain activity was first reported by Hans Berger in 1929. This gave rise to the EEG that is used widely today.

The EEG measures mass changes in synaptic activity in the nerves of the brain and is helpful in diagnosing, treating and evaluating diseases that change electrical activity in the brain, such as epilepsy.

Magnetoencephalography (MEG)

Magnetoencephalography (MEG) measures the magnetic fields generated by electric currents in the brain. The magnetic field measurements are in the range of femto-tesla to pico-tesla. MEG provides a very accurate resolution of the timing of neuronal activity.

MEG can map brain activity by recording the electromagnetic fields that are produced by the naturally occurring electrical currents in the brain. This technique offers a better spatial resolution than EEG and helps to pinpoint problematic sites.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)

It is used to demonstrate regional, time-varying changes in brain metabolism

Both EEG and MEG have their disadvantages and have been replaced by more recent methods such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). This technique can detect the smallest of changes and is useful in both diagnosis of disease and the development of treatments.

fMRI uses very powerful magnets and can localize brain activity changes to regions as small as one cubic millimeter. In addition, it is not an invasive procedure and can be used widely. However fMRI, does fail to provide real-time dynamics of blood flow within the brain.

Photon migration tomography

Photon migration tomography (PMT; also called near-infrared spectroscopy or optical imaging) is another new method for measuring cortical activity and assesses the scattering of near-infrared light from the brain tissue.

Photon-counting computed tomography (PCCT) is a form of X-ray computed tomography (CT) in which X-rays are detected using a photon-counting detector

Transcranial magnetic stimulation

Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a technique used to excite neurons using strong and time-varying magnetic fields. The procedure is non-invasive and painless.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a noninvasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of depression. TMS is typically used when other depression treatments haven’t been effective.


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