Re: trends in brain imaging

From: J. R. Molloy (
Date: Sat Jan 20 2001 - 16:04:57 MST

Brain Scanning
Today's state-of-the-art brain scanners use magnetic resonance imaging
(MRI) to image a living brain to a resolution of ~1mm. At this resolution
it is not possible to image individual neurons. However, if current rates
of technological progress continue, it will not be long before we are able
to scan the location and connectivity of every neuron and synapse in the
brain. This will vastly increase our understanding of how the brain works
and even raises the possibility of "downloading" a person's complete mind
to a computer. Thus, it could be possible to build an artificial brain by
simply copying, neuron for neuron, a real biological brain.

Brain scanning and the single mind
Some of my friends have tried to convince me that I should finally quit
meddling around with psychophysics and graduate to brain scanning. Start
to solve real problems or really solve the problems I have an interest in!
Brain scanning techniques are rapidly gaining popularity and many
laboratories feel second rate when they can't offer suitable facilities.
Owing to the high cost of such facilities there are complicated issues of
politics and (social and scientific) status involved. Here I intend to
address only the potential scientific merits of such methods. I say
`potential' because state-of-the-art equipment and methods---though
intricate and expensive---still leave much to be desired. But suppose
we're already in a more or less ideal situation, that is to say suppose we
could obtain maps of human brain activity with good spatiotemporal
resolution in realistic situations. What does this buy us?

imaging a fuorescent calcium indicator
<scroll to the bottom>

Professors to draft 'blueprint' of brain using state-of-the-art scanning
The scanner, which will be in use by the fall, is twice as powerful as a
conventional fMRI and will be the only scanner in use outside of a medical
setting in the country.
"We have already been doing some scanning at a nearby facility," Cohen
said. "But this scanner is research dedicated. It will have a higher field

Spiritual Machines
For example, if a person scans his brain through a noninvasive
scanning technology of the twenty-first century (such as an advanced
magnetic resonance imaging), and downloads his mind to his personal
computer, is the "person" who emerges in the machine the same
consciousness as the person who was scanned?

Seeing the brain in action
Exploring Cortical mechanisms
Underlying higher brain Functions
by optical imaging

Imaging Neurons : A Laboratory Manual
Presents a comprehensive description of the range of imaging technologies
being applied to living cells. Covers both established methods and
cutting-edge techniques with a wealth of technical detail and practical
advice. Contains sections on image acquisition and florescence imaging,
confocal microscopy, multiphoton microscopy, photoactivation, calcium
imaging, imaging other aspects of neuronal function, and genetically
engineered fluorescent probes. Methods described are applicable to other
cell types. Material originated at a laboratory course taught at Cold
Spring Harbor Laboratory by the editors and contributors. Plastic comb

Stay hungry,

--J. R.
3M TA3

Useless hypotheses: consciousness, phlogiston, philosophy, vitalism, mind,
free will

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