Tuesday, April 07, 2009


I got an MRI today because I am participating in a study at UPMC.  It's an enormous machine with a human-size cylinder cut out of the middle.  That's where they slide you in to take pictures of your brain.  I was given simple tasks like matching faces and patterns.  You communicate with the computer using a keypad that is placed in a glove on your hand.  Besides being very noisy, the only thing that bothered me is that during one of the experiments, the magnetic field somehow started stimulating the muscles around my torso.  They started twitching randomly.  It wasn't big, just subtle involuntary movement of the muscles, but it felt really strange.
  One of the tasks was to look at disturbing or upsetting pictures, such as people who had been in accidents, and to try to consciously cast the scenario in a positive light.  For instance, if the picture was of someone who was clearly injured, but was being treated in a hospital, you were instructed to invent some story like, "Well, the person is hurt, but is being well cared for and will be better soon."  I suspect they're testing the effect of "positive thinking" on brain function.  Anyway, it was an interesting experience. 

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