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The Mindfulness Edge by Tim Gard PhD., Matt Tenney

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AppendiximgIntroduction to Neuroscience

Dr. Gard

imgHow We Study the Brain

The brain can be studied in several ways. The most widely used methods to study the brain, and certainly the mindful brain, are electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). EEG is used to measure electrical activity of the brain by sticking up to 256 electrodes on the scalp. Although the timing of EEG is very precise, it is not very helpful for determining where exactly in the brain activity occurs.

An MRI machine, on the other hand, can quite precisely locate where in the brain activity takes place. Besides measuring brain function, it can also be used to measure the structure of the brain. You may have already been in an MRI scanner in the hospital. It is a very large machine that looks like a giant donut on its side, with a table that slides into its hole. The massive outer part contains a very strong magnet (often 3 tesla), which is about 60,000 times stronger than the magnetic field of the earth. Once put inside the opening of an operating MRI machine, you'll hear beeping and hammering noises, a little bit like minimalist techno music.

The MRI scanner works as follows. The human body, including the brain, consists of a lot of water (H2O), which is made up of two hydrogen atoms (H). The ...

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