Science & Tech

Mapping areas of the brain

  • Jan 08, 2014
  • 270 words
  • 2 minutes
Expand Image
Advertisement

It’s not always easy to fathom how neuroscientists study how the brain works.

But at the University of Saskatchewan, students like Layla Gould do it by asking participants to lie unmoving on a bed in a magnetic resonance imaging machine for nearly an hour as they read words out loud.

Gould, a PhD student of cognitive neuroscience, is looking specifically at what regions of the brain are activated when we read or look at pictures. Although some neuroscientists have traditionally thought the two tasks activate totally separate regions, Gould’s experiments suggest there is some overlap.

Expand Image

To test this, she uses an MRI machine to measure the flow of blood to different parts of the brain. Participants read words that appear on screens in special goggles inside the machine for the first 10 minutes, then say words that correspond to pictures for the next 10.

“We found that the visual word form area is also activated for pictures. That suggests that (the area) is not specific to word reading,” Gould says.

Ron Borowsky, a cognitive neuroscience professor in the psychology department and Gould’s supervisor, overseas a project that pairs graduate students with brains surgeons at the Royal University Hospital. Borowsky says that budget limitations brought a system into place that gives researchers from his lab access to the MRI machine at the hospital. In exchange, the neuroscience students are on hand to provide valuable information through their unique knowledge of different sectors of the brain.

Borowsky says this collaboration also allows surgeons to use less intrusive techniques during surgery. “They can guide surgeon’s decisions about where to cut,” he says.

Advertisement

Related Content

Science & Tech

Track record: why geotracking technology helps us find, and lose, our sense of place

As geotracking technology on our smartphones becomes ever more sophisticated, we’re just beginning to grasps its capabilities (and possible pitfalls)

  • 4685 words
  • 19 minutes
Endangered caribou

Environment

Mapping out a new approach to biodiversity protection

Decisions around where to establish new protected areas in Canada should consider wildlife and ecosystem health first

  • 879 words
  • 4 minutes

People & Culture

With old traditions and new tech, young Inuit chart their changing landscape

For generations, hunting, and the deep connection to the land it creates, has been a mainstay of Inuit culture. As the coastline changes rapidly—reshaping the marine landscape and jeopardizing the hunt—Inuit youth are charting ways to preserve the hunt, and their identity. 

  • 5346 words
  • 22 minutes

Mapping

Global map depicts mammal movement between protected areas

Connecting protected areas allows wildlife to roam, and is a vital part of the conservation conversation

  • 561 words
  • 3 minutes