Brain Mapping - What It Is And How It Can Help You
Brain mapping, or neuroimaging, refers to a number of different techniques that are used to scan your brain and visually represent it on a computer screen. A little over a hundred years ago, when people thought that electrical movements in frog brains were caused by the frog's spirit, x-ray was invented. It offered a crude but to some extent successful way of seeing inside the human body. Since then, we've come a long way. Let's look at brain mapping and how it works.
What Are The Main Brain Mapping Methods?
The most common types of brain mapping are functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electroencephalography (EEG), positron emission tomography (PET) and CT scans. These technologies can be used to carry out brain mapping without having to do any surgery, and they're better than x-rays because they emit little or no radiation. They also present a clearer picture than x-rays.
Why Scan The Brain?
Brain mapping has two very important functions. One is brain research. Researchers use the data gathered from these methods to find out which part of the brain handles which functions. Aside from just adding to our overall knowledge about how we work, this knowledge also helps in the treatment of head and spinal cord injuries.
The other reason for brain mapping is to treat illnesses and trauma to the brain directly. We can use brain mapping to diagnose problems like brain cancer, brain lesions or degenerative disorders. It can also be used to monitor the progress of treatment for these illnesses and prevent them from developing further.
What's It Like To Get A Brain Scan?
Most brain mapping methods use a huge scanner. You lie down on a table and slide inside of it. The scanner itself is circular with an opening where you go in. Getting your brain scanned is completely painless but it takes quite a while - most techniques take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. It can get a bit uncomfortable lying on a hard table all that time. Plus, there's often a heavy electrical hum. For this reason, doctors and researchers have taken steps to make the experience more pleasant for their patients by giving them pillows, earphones and other amenities. Some scanners are even equipped with televisions!
Brain mapping is also important for the future of human health. Brain mapping techniques are constantly improving and what they show us adds to the knowledge that we have about our brains. Much of the territory is still uncharted. What will brain mapping teach us about our minds in the future?
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