The Last Furlong

Comments on the race of life.

fMRI scan science

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I’ve always had a problem believing that scientists REALLY know what is going on in our brains.

Remember, people participating in brain imaging science (to discover which area of our brains were used for “lust” say), are stuck in a metal coffin, uncomfortable, with a deafening sound, in a medical environment and then shown porn on a tiny screen above their immobilized heads, which is supposed to generate some kind of “lust” (seemingly impossible under those conditions), and where their brain lights up, we are told, that is the area of our brains that controls lust!

Imagine that? THATS science!

I bet when people really experience lust naturally, their heads inside look like a fireworks display on the fourth of July!

So that kind of science makes me feel very dubious.

We’ll only really know what lights up in our head, where, when the equipment for observing it, is unobtrusive and not intrusive and comfortable. And that might be a long time yet.

This, what I consider a silly experiment, below, caught my eye. It was to discover what parts of the brain were used in people who could not be encouraged to change their minds. It was run by Sam Harris, a rigid atheist whom I follow. I would think all atheists would like to say to those who have a delusion that there is a God and don’t change their minds, that there is something wrong with their brains! I really don’t trust New Atheists at all.

Or blame intransigent Trump and Brexit voters for some kind of incompetent brains.

Here is the bit in the Scanners in the experiment explained.

Each student was paid £40. I bet they could concentrate real good! Immobilized. Deafened. Uncomfortable. In a medical sarcophagus costing a fortune! WHAT a waste of money and time.

When participants arrived for their fMRI scan, they were given instructions and were given the opportunity to ask questions of the experimenter. After the instructions, they performed a practice task, which consisted of a shortened version of one trial of the experiment using the statement “Cats make better pets than dogs”. followed by three challenges to that statement. Following the practice task, participants underwent BOLD fMRI. For each participant there were 4 belief-challenging scans (420 seconds each). During the belief-challenging scans, each statement was presented for 10 seconds, followed by a variable delay of 4–6 seconds. Participants were instructed to press a response button when they had read and understood the statement. Five challenges to the original statement were then presented, each for 10 seconds. Again, participants pressed a response button when they had read and understood the challenge. After all five challenges had been presented, the original statement was presented again and participants had 12 seconds to rate their strength of belief in the statement. The participant indicated his or her response via a button press on an MRI-compatible button box held in the right hand. They pressed buttons to move a cursor left and right along a Likert scale to indicate the strength of their belief on a scale from 1 (strongly disbelieve) to 7 (strongly believe). The cursor started in the middle position of the scale. Two political and two non-political statements were presented in each of the four fMRI scans. The order of these conditions was randomized within each scan, and the statements within each condition were assigned random positions within the experiment for each subject. The temporal structure of the trials and runs is depicted in Fig. S1.

Neural correlates of maintaining one’s political beliefs in the face of counterevidence


Author: Elizabeth

I'm someone also pounding the Path, just like you.. I'm retired, going into Old Age and loving my life. I'm hoping to remain happy and well for as long as possible. Old Age is not SO bad - yet!

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