On Sunday I got my first glimpse of some serious neuroimaging machinery.
My supervisor invited me along to watch him testing a participant in an experiment that is very similar to the one he and I will be conducting in a few months time.
The participant was required to under go an MEG, or magnetoencephalogram.
Just like this one...
Although MEG is not strictly an imaging tool, it does allow us to view brain waves in different parts of the cerebral cortex. It works by recording the electrical activity at over 270 points in the brain. Once this is done you can examine the data to see what activity correlated with the task the participant was doing. Clever stuff.
The participant was sat in the machine and played a series of tones, at 2 different pitches, some of which were doubled in length. He had to press a button every time he heard a longer tone.
Halfway through the test one of the tones became associated with an electric shock to the forearm.
Christian didn't explain to me the exact nature of this study, but it is very similar in nature to the one we proposed (a few entries back in this very blog, if you want to read about it).
Oh, and I've volunteered to take part myself next week, and in addition I might be taking part in an fMRI experiment too, which I will tell you all about if it comes to pass.