Open Library - открытая библиотека учебной информации

Открытая библиотека для школьников и студентов. Лекции, конспекты и учебные материалы по всем научным направлениям.

Категории

Психология A new window on the brain will help researchers unravel autism
просмотров - 167

Text 2

Text 1

Lesson 4 Psychology in action

Read the following newspaper articles and discuss them with your group mates:

Scientists read people’s minds

People’s intentions have been read via brain scans by a team of scientists including Professor Dick Passingham from Oxford’s Department of Experimental Psychology.

During the study, researchers asked volunteers to decide in advance whether to add or subtract two numbers they were about to be shown on a screen.

Before the numbers appeared, their brains were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging. First, the computer program ‘learnt’ the unique brain patterns relating to the ‘add’ or ‘subtract’ intention for each individual volunteer. Afterwards it was able to identify the person's unspoken intentions with 70 per cent accuracy.

The team of scientists from Germany, Japan, London and Oxford published their findings in Current Biology.

It is hoped that the research will advance brain-controlled technology for tools for disabled people, such as thought-controlled prosthetic limbs. However, the ethical implications of reading minds are pressing: could, for example, such a system one day be used to read criminal intentions before any crime has been committed?

Professor Passingham, senior author on the paper, says that such concerns are not a problem at this stage. ‘To read your intentions we have to scan you for one hour, and specify in advance that you should decide between adding or subtracting. We could not tell what other intentions you had, only which of two specified intentions – and even then we only get it right 70 per cent of the time. Nor can we use the readings from one person’s brain to read another person’s – so John Reid can't ask us to find out if someone is going to commit a murder and then lock the person up before they do so.

‘However, advances in imaging have come very fast, so I would not be so sure that we won't be able to do better in future. I therefore think that we should be holding ethical discussions now.’

The first brain imaging centre in the world purpose-built for the study of autism spectrum disorders is to be opened in Oxford.

Work starts on installing a MEG scanner this week at the new centre, which is sited at Oxford University's Department of Psychiatry at the Warneford Hospital. The scanner will help Oxford University's autism research group, led by Professor Anthony Bailey, to understand the brain basis of autism. It will also be a resource for researchers from all over the UK.

MEG (Magnetoencephalographic) scanners provide a “window on the brain”: they allow doctors and researchers to view brain activity whilst a particular task is performed, showing both where and when different parts of the brain are active. The scanner measures the tiny magnetic fields generated by brain activity.

“MEG is ideal for studying autism,” says Professor Bailey. “The scanner is silent and safe, children and adults can sit upright, and researchers are able to sit next to them, making it a stress-free experience. Imaging the brain allows us to compare the brain activity of someone with autism to that of someone without autism.”

MEG scanners allow the patient or subject to sit upright and unenclosed. MEG scanning also provides millisecond time resolution: in other words, it shows how brain activity is changing from one moment to the next.

Until now, Professor Bailey's team has travelled to Finland to measure brain activity, either taking with them adults with autism from the UK, or studying affected Finnish children. “The new centre in Oxford will transform our research into the brain basis of autism,” he says. “It will also be a resource for other autism researchers.”

Professor Bailey and his team's MEG research in Finland have already shown that human faces are processed in a quite different way in children and adults with autism. “The next step is to understand why there is this difference in processing and how it changes with development,” he says. “Ultimately we aim to develop more effective treatments.”

The £2.3m MEG Centre has been designed as a relaxing environment for children with autism, with plenty of exposed wood, natural light and open space. It contains a “practice” scanner which allows children to get used to the process without using up valuable time on the active scanner.

Studies using the MEG scanner will form one part of the work carried out by the autism research group. The team leads an international study to identify autism susceptibility genes; uses several imaging techniques to understand the brain basis of autism; and is investigating how computer-generated worlds can be used to develop social skills. The team is currently looking for children and adults with autism to take part in their studies. Individuals and families interested in learning more about, or helping with, research by the group can contact them on autism.

Notes:

The MEG centre is a partnership between the University of Oxford, The Open University and the University of Derby. It will be used by researchers from around the UK studying various brain disorders, including autism, as well as normal brain activity.


Читайте также


  • - A new window on the brain will help researchers unravel autism

    Text 2 Text 1 Lesson 4 Psychology in action Read the following newspaper articles and discuss them with your group mates:Scientists read people’s minds People’s intentions have been read via brain scans by a team of scientists including Professor Dick Passingham from Oxford’s Department of Experimental Psychology. During the study, researchers asked volunteers to decide in advance whether to add or subtract two numbers they were about to be shown on a screen. Before... [читать подробенее]


  • - A new window on the brain will help researchers unravel autism

    Text 2 Text 1 Lesson 4 Psychology in action Read the following newspaper articles and discuss them with your group mates:Scientists read people’s minds People’s intentions have been read via brain scans by a team of scientists including Professor Dick Passingham from Oxford’s Department of Experimental Psychology. During the study, researchers asked volunteers to decide in advance whether to add or subtract two numbers they were about to be shown on a screen. Before... [читать подробенее]