Technology in Psychology Essay
Psychology, the scientific study of how the brain works, has been around for centuries. Yet, it has only been in the past few decades that psychology has made a jump in the discoveries about the brain being made. This is because modern technology has transformed the way psychology, and other branches of science have done research. Research particularly affects the cognitive level of analysis, which looks at how the brain processes information. Technology has vastly improved the resources available to cognitive psychologists.There are three main imaging techniques that allow researchers to obtain images of brain functioning and structures. These three techniques are the PET scan, MRI, and fMRI. Through imaging techniques such as these, the relationship between cognitive processes and behavior can be better understood.
PET, or positron emission tomography, scans, help study glucose consumption and blood flow in the brain. To track the changes in the brain, a radioactive isotope with a short half-life is injected into the patient. Then the brain, or other part of the body being studied, is scanned and monitored.
The radioactive isotope is hypothesized to be harmless since it has such a short half-life, but PET scans have not been around long enough to see if this is true. PET scans specifically help cognitive psychologists diagnose and understand Alzheimer’s disease and problems with the hippocampus. Cognitive psychology is all about how the brain is processing information. As behaviors are changed, researchers can physically see how the brain is reacting with PET scans. MRI scans take three-dimensional pictures of brain structures and detect changes in oxygen levels similar to fMRIs.
MRIs help psychologists see where the brain has more activity during problem solving and reading activities. Another important technology that psychologists use is fMRI scans. One of the newer technologies introduced to the world of psychology is fMRI scans, or functional magnetic resonance imaging. It is a branch off of MRI scans, and measures changes in the blood flow, especially oxygen levels. In Caplan and Dapretto (2001) the researches used fMRI scans in their experiment. They were testing how the left and right hemispheres worked when logic processes were thought about. The participant had to judge if two nswers to a question made sense.
The fMRI recorded brain activity when participants had to judge whether an answer was on topic or off topic. The right hemisphere was activated in certain areas of the brain. In a different part of the experiment, participants had to judge if answers to questions were logic, and the brain activity was recorded here too. The left hemisphere was predominantly active during the logic task, specifically in Broadman’s areas 44/45 and 22. Caplan and Dapretto concluded that the left and right hemisphere both help determine how conversation is processed.The right hemisphere pertains to logic, while the left hemisphere is more geared towards logic. Without the technology of the fMRI, Caplan and Dapretto would not have been able to measure how the left and right hemispheres were processing information. Using fMRIs have helped psychologists challenge theories and find research that supports new ideas.
As technology advances, so does research in psychology. Cognitive psychologists can better understand how the brain changes during cognitive processes like problem solving, memory, languages, and more.Before technology, psychologists had to hypothesize or look at the brain structure in post-mortem studies. However, modern day technology allows psychologists to look at the active brain in a much deeper way. Research will only get more intricate with more and more brain imaging techniques being discovered.
However, participants do have to be wary of possible harms like in PET scans. Overall, the use of technology vastly helps psychologists investigate cognitive processes at a more in depth level, and thus can help support psychologists’ claims.