What does a brain do when it sees a friend across the street?
- It gives a brain wave.
What do you call a skull without 1 billion neurons?
- A no-brainer.
A pumpkin and a salmon walk into an fMRI. And what happens?
Neuroscience doesn’t just make you think but it can also make you laugh! Here is a study which goes to hilarious lengths to analyze the efficacy of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). fMRIs are large brain scanners that measure the brain’s activity levels. What these scientists did was first, put a pumpkin into the brain scanner. If you look closely, you can see the pumpkin seeds but overall the contrast was very low.
Next up came the salmon; it was a full length Atlantic salmon bought dead from their local supermarket. Once put in the scanner, they could not believe their eyes! The dead salmon showed brain activity signals (red dots on the image)! Obviously, this was a false signal, or a false positive as scientists call it. It happened because of the faulty analysing methods. This experiment has had a profound impact on how investigators and clinical user make sense of the information obtained with these scanners.
This study highlights the importance of using proper ways of analysing the data, to ensure that what they are seeing is really brain activity and not false brain activity like what they saw in the dead salmon. So what happens exactly when a pumpkin and a salmon walk into an fMRI? A revolutionary discovery! To read more, click on the link below! To learn more about MRI with your class, check out our session on “How We See the Brain: Building an Electromagnet.”