When new discoveries are made in the field of neuroscience, you often hear that particular areas of the brain are active at particular times, or that other areas don’t have anything to do with specific skills. Once you dig deeper than the headline, you might start to wonder how scientists actually KNOW what’s happening in “the brain.” There’s not just one master brain out there for them to crack!
Neuroscientists rely on volunteers who are willing to have their brains analyzed while they perform particular tasks. With luck, over time the scientists are able to look at data from enough individuals to get a sense of what is happening in an “average” brain during their task of interest.
Brian Moore is one of the people who has volunteered a couple of times for Helen Neville’s language fMRI studies at the University of Oregon. Find out why in this video clip. Brian is deaf, so he signs his remarks. The voice you’ll hear is that of his interpreter, whose hands you might see a bit at the right of the frame.
Most research programs are always on the lookout for volunteers… if this possibility intrigues you, check out what’s happening at your local colleges and universities!