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SSS 2010-02-10

时间:2010-05-20 02:52来源:互联网 提供网友:mark@li   字体: [ ]
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    (单词翻译:双击或拖选)

It’s called functional1 magnetic resonance2 imaging, or FMRI. And some neuroscientists call it the greatest scientific advance of the last 25 years.  Because FMRI lets researchers look at the human brain in action.  By measuring blood flow, it produces colorful maps of the brain that display the actual activity of neurons—it’s the brain at work. 

 

That sounds great, right? Well, there are criticisms. One is that it really is quite slow. The blood flow response can take 2-5 seconds, but a thought can flash in milliseconds.

 

Well a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found a way to get around this time lag in order to study the timing3 of activation4 in two related but separate regions of the brain.

 

Scientists predicted that viewing an emotionally charged photo would get the attention of the viewer’s amygdale which is the fight or flight area of the brain, even before part of the brain’s visual system got activated5. Now if that happened, it would mean that we process an image as scary before we even register what it is.

 

But to test timing of activation between two brain regions requires a fast measurement tool, and an FMRI scan is too slow to see if there’s any difference in timing between when the amygdala cells fire versus6 when the visual cortex cells fire.

 

So instead of doing a whole brain scan, which is standard for FMRI studies, the researchers scanned a tiny 5 mm part of the brain that included a sample of the pertinent7 regions. And by limiting the imaging to this small slice they were able to get 10 scans per second instead of one scan every 2 to 3 seconds. So if there was a short lag between regions in the brain, they could catch it.

 

They showed participants positive images, for example, porn and negative for example, people being tortured, as well as a neutral image.

 

And results were in line with their prediction:  the emotional photos activated the amygdala well before part of the visual cortex.

 

So while there is still a permanent issue with timing and FMRI—because the blood flow response arrives about 5 seconds after brain cells fire—these researchers show that it’s possible to measure the relative difference between activation times in two brain regions. 

 

It might seem creepy that our brain can tell us to run before we fully8 visually identified exactly what we are running from – but I think we can agree, that’s a pretty good thing.

 

—Christie Nicholson


 


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1 functional 5hMxa     
adj.为实用而设计的,具备功能的,起作用的
参考例句:
  • The telephone was out of order,but is functional now.电话刚才坏了,但现在可以用了。
  • The furniture is not fancy,just functional.这些家具不是摆着好看的,只是为了实用。
2 resonance hBazC     
n.洪亮;共鸣;共振
参考例句:
  • Playing the piano sets up resonance in those glass ornaments.一弹钢琴那些玻璃饰物就会产生共振。
  • The areas under the two resonance envelopes are unequal.两个共振峰下面的面积是不相等的。
3 timing rgUzGC     
n.时间安排,时间选择
参考例句:
  • The timing of the meeting is not convenient.会议的时间安排不合适。
  • The timing of our statement is very opportune.我们发表声明选择的时机很恰当。
4 activation 24eed33ee38027d124839f0fcdf6adcb     
n. 激活,催化作用
参考例句:
  • A computer controls the activation of an air bag.电脑控制着气囊的启动。
5 activated c3905c37f4127686d512a7665206852e     
adj. 激活的 动词activate的过去式和过去分词
参考例句:
  • The canister is filled with activated charcoal.蒸气回收罐中充满了活性炭。
6 versus wi7wU     
prep.以…为对手,对;与…相比之下
参考例句:
  • The big match tonight is England versus Spain.今晚的大赛是英格兰对西班牙。
  • The most exciting game was Harvard versus Yale.最富紧张刺激的球赛是哈佛队对耶鲁队。
7 pertinent 53ozF     
adj.恰当的;贴切的;中肯的;有关的;相干的
参考例句:
  • The expert made some pertinent comments on the scheme.那专家对规划提出了一些中肯的意见。
  • These should guide him to pertinent questions for further study.这些将有助于他进一步研究有关问题。
8 fully Gfuzd     
adv.完全地,全部地,彻底地;充分地
参考例句:
  • The doctor asked me to breathe in,then to breathe out fully.医生让我先吸气,然后全部呼出。
  • They soon became fully integrated into the local community.他们很快就完全融入了当地人的圈子。
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