BLOA - Discuss use of tech in investigating the link between biological factors and behaviour Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in BLOA - Discuss use of tech in investigating the link between biological factors and behaviour Deck (16):

Brain imaging technology

- non invasive procedures
- used to measure brain activity, look at brain structures, and discover the functions of brain areas



positron emission tomography

- injects radioactive sugar that produces gamma rays while it's being metabolised by the brain
- based on the principle that rate of metabolism depends on activity

- can show dynamic info in real-time
- helpful diagnostic tool showing abnormalities in activity levels

- not very precise
- some health concerns
- but overall quite safe

PET study: Raine et al. (1997)


Raine et al. (1997) - Aim

To investigate brain abnormalities in murderers using PET scans


Raine et al. (1997) - Process

1. 41 prisoners charged with murder were paired with a control (non-murdering) subject
2. Each control subject had the same age, sex, and absence/presence of schizophrenia as their partner


Raine et al. (1997) - Findings

murderers exhibited:
- lower activity in the prefrontal cortex (linked to a loss of self-control and altered emotion)
- lower activity in the corpus callosum (connects the two brain hemispheres), suggesting less communication between the 2 hemispheres
- lower activity than with controls in the amygdala (linked to emotional expression)
- lower activity in the angular gyrus (linked with verbal ability and educational success)


Raine et al. (1997) - Conclusion

problems with the mentioned structures may cause a lack of inhibition for violent behaviour and greater fearlessness


Raine et al. (1997) - Evaluation

- gender imbalance (only 2 out of the 41 participants were female)
- matched-pairs design was a real strength as it ruled out other effects on brain activity
- but findings apply only to a sub-group of violent offenders (not to other types of violence or crime)
- some participants were murderers while others were manslaughterers (specific brain abnormalities should not be generalized)
- however the PET scan can lack precision



- combines computer and X-ray technology
- X-rays show human bones but not soft tissue
- computer technology fills in to allow us to see those tissues
- CT scans can be taken from the top, bottom, back, front or sides of the head and can show the brain at any depth
- basically cross-sections of the brain

- extremely useful for showing structural changes (e.g. due to a brain tumour or brain damage

- can only produce structural images
- cannot show brain activity
- health concerns due to x-rays

CT study: Ogden (2005)



cause: damage to one side of the brain
effect: inattention to the opposite side of space


Ogden (2005) - Aim

investigate hemineglect's biological causes and cognitive effects


Ogden (2005) - Findings

- CT scan showed that Janet had a tumour in the parietal lobe in her right hemisphere
- she ignores everything on the left side of space
- often justifies, rationalizes and jokes about her tendencies


Ogden (2005) - Conclusion

the fact that Janet appears to be aware of her condition implies that her condition doesn't cause inability to sense the left side of space, simply a willing neglect


strengths of case studies

- yields rich data and detailed data
- can be very useful for constructing/challenging theories


limitations of case studies

- extent of generalizability to population is limited
- ethical considerations: participant may be upset by invasiveness


general evaluation of applications of tech in investigating the link between neurophysiology and behaviour

- effective in showing correlations between specific brain areas and behaviour
- but takes a reductionist approach to complex issues
- brain differences in the murderers (Raine et al., 1997) may have been a consequence of a violent lifestyle and not its cause
- the smaller hippocampi (Luby, 2012) may have been the result of lifestyle factors such as poor diet or biological factors such as inheritance


what to write when asked: "Discuss use of tech in investigating the link between biological factors and behaviour"

- main idea: use of PET and MRI to investigate the link between brain functions and behaviour

for each tech:
- explain how it shows brain processes in action
- how does it help us understand how the brain works?
- evaluate their use (ethical, methodological)
- evaluate the studies mentioned
- state advantages and disadvantages + give your opinion on whether advantages outweigh disadvantages + explain why

PET: Raine et al. (1997)
MRI: Ogden (2005)

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