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How do we study living brains? - John Borghi and Elizabeth Waters


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As far as we know, there’s only one thing in our solar system sophisticated enough to study itself: the human brain. But this self-investigation is challenging because a living brain is shielded by skull, swaddled in tissue, and made up of billions of tiny cells. How do we study living brains without harming their owners? Elizabeth Waters and John Borghi explain how EEGs, fMRIs, and PETs work.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

Curious about what these techniques look like in practice? These articles provide some insight.

How do the techniques described in this video fit in with others used in the field in neuroscience? This article describes how these techniques fit together with those employed by researchers who study animal models.

As described in the article above, the spatial resolution of the PET is actually quite similar to that of fMRI. What makes PET more precise is the number of different tracers that can be used to look at brain activity in different ways.

You might have heard that there has been a lot of discussion about the validity of results of fMRI experiments recently. Here is a well-researched article that dives into the main issues.

Neuroimaging techniques have allowed scientists to debunk many myths about the brain. Check out this TED-ED video and this one.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator John Borghi, Elizabeth Waters
  • Director Joash Berkeley
  • Script Editor Eleanor Nelsen
  • Senior Animator Joash Berkeley
  • Animator Eli Guillou, Leonardo G. Franchi, Jonas Elsgaard
  • Designer Joash Berkeley
  • Music Qbsound Studio
  • Associate Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott, Elizabeth Cox
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Narrator Susan Zimmerman
  • Fact-Checker Francisco Diez

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