The Brain and Spinal Cord

Critical Thinking Questions

Before the advent of modern imaging techniques, scientists and clinicians relied on autopsies of people who suffered brain injury with resultant change in behavior to determine how different areas of the brain were affected. What are some of the limitations associated with this kind of approach?


The same limitations associated with any case study would apply here. In addition, it is possible that the damage caused changes in other areas of the brain, which might contribute to the behavioral deficits. Such changes would not necessarily be obvious to someone performing an autopsy, as they may be functional in nature, rather than structural.

Which of the techniques discussed would be viable options for you to determine how activity in the reticular formation is related to sleep and wakefulness? Why?


The most viable techniques are fMRI and PET because of their ability to provide information about brain activity and structure simultaneously.