The brain is one of the most powerful organs in the human body. It is the organ that controls your thoughts, memories, body movement, speech, and even the function of many organs in your body. It is also responsible for interpreting information from the outside world through your 5 senses to keep you alert. This is why a healthy functioning brain is crucial for your mental and physical wellbeing.
How Does the Brain Work?
Your brain is made up of thousands of neurons which gather and transmit electrochemical signals. You can think of neurons as wires and your brain as a supercomputer. Just like a computer needs electrical power to work, the human brain requires a steady flow of oxygen, glucose, and other nutrients to function properly.
In essence, the human brain is the root of all human intelligence. It interprets all the data it receives from external sources like your senses. It also sends messages to different parts of your body directing them how to function.
One reason a human brain is even more powerful than a computer is it has the ability to process thoughts and emotions. Our brain is responsible for generating hormones that stream into our blood and affect the way we feel.
Scans that Help You Study the Brain
As technology continues to advance over time, the field of neurology has also developed more efficient techniques to capture images of the human brain. You can read more about this here.
EEG is a scan that is used to study the brain activity of a patient under different psychological states. It is highly helpful in diagnosing medical problems that happen due to lack of activity or excess of activity like seizures.
In an EEG scan, electrodes are carefully positioned on the patient’s face and scalp. After this, the electrical potential of each electrode is measured to determine the magnitude of brain activity in each part of the brain. Patients with problems such as epilepsy show amplified electrical potential on the scan.
Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
This scan is designed to measure the levels of sugar glucose in a person’s brain to depict where brain activities are taking place. This relies on the fact that active neurons require glucose to function properly.
To carry out this scan, a tracer substance is combined with the radioisotopes that are injected into the patient’s blood. This tracer substance creates visible spots on the video image of the brain whenever there is activity in parts of the brain.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Magnetic resonance imaging is the most useful technique of brain imaging. It is widely used by doctors all around the world. Furthermore, MRI scans are considered to be non-invasive and less harmful than other techniques.
An MRI creates an image of the brain through a precise process. An MRI scan uses strong magnetic fields to align the moving atomic nuclei inside the body tissues. It then disturbs their alignment and observes the radio frequency signals that are created when the nuclei return to their original status.
The patient must stay still when the scan is being conducted for brain imaging to be accurate. This can often prove to be difficult inside the cramped space in an MRI machine.
Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)
Functional magnetic resonance imaging involves conducting a series of MRIs to determine the structure as well as the activity of the brain. It measures slight changes in the signals of the brain that occur due to changing neural activities. They are used to study psychological phenomena like our thought processing when we play an instrument or dream.
These are the four popular brain imaging techniques that scan the human brain. They use different methods to study the functionality of the brain in order to understand it better.