Brain Imaging Assumes Greater Power, Precision

New machines and approaches are offering neuroscientists unprecedented access to the working human brain By Douglas Steinberg Photo: Neil Michel/Axiom Sylvia WIRED FOR AN IMAGE: Research associate Valerie Clark gets her brain waves recorded by Ron Mangun, a psychology professor at the University of California, Davis. Mind-reading, that staple of science fiction, is inching closer to science fact, thanks to steady progress in the field of brain imaging. In the last few years, neuroimagers hav

Douglas Steinberg
Apr 12, 1998


New machines and approaches are offering neuroscientists unprecedented access to the working human brain By Douglas Steinberg

Photo: Neil Michel/Axiom Sylvia

WIRED FOR AN IMAGE: Research associate Valerie Clark gets her brain waves recorded by Ron Mangun, a psychology professor at the University of California, Davis.
Mind-reading, that staple of science fiction, is inching closer to science fact, thanks to steady progress in the field of brain imaging. In the last few years, neuroimagers have established a new technology while fine-tuning an older one. They are now building more powerful machines and beginning to make headway against their ultimate challenge--determining the order in which brain regions become activated as a person thinks, moves, senses, and learns. Until now, brain scans have been subject to the neural equivalent of physics' Heisenberg uncertainty principle: They could detect the areas or the timing of neural activation, but not both.

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