Inside the Brain


No, this is not a high-tech beauty shop treatment.

Rather, students in the Psychology Department’s Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory course (Psyc123L) are readying a fellow student for a brain imaging experiment involving attentional processing and error detection. The upper-level course, taught by Professor Michael Spezio, prepares students to collect and analyze neuroimaging data.

Dean Pospisil (PI’11), wearing a 256-electrode head net, is a willing participant as the five Scripps women add electrically conductive solution to the electrodes so that the electrical connection to Pospisil’s scalp at each electrode is stable; this helps ensure good data collection.

The dense array EEG equipment used in the course was funded by a major research instrumentation grant from the National Science Foundation to Scripps, Claremont McKenna, and Pitzer Colleges, with Scripps professors Alan Hartley, Michael Spezio, and Stacey Wood, Cathy Reed (CMC) and David Moore (Pitzer) as the project co-investigators.

PSYC123L group prepAnne Tootell ’11, Christina Boardman ’10, Valerie Latimore ’12, Sara Cronin ’12, Zoe Ravich ’12, and Pospisil will use software that is used in neuroimaging labs around the world to analyze the data and attempt to localize signals on the scalp to cortical locations in the brain. According to Spezio, both Ravich and Tootell had previous experience with similar systems, thanks to their work with Professor Hartley, and were a great help in showing the others how to apply the electrode nets.

Spezio said: “It is exciting to me as a teacher of cognitive neuroscience to teach our students high-level experimental and analytical methods on cutting-edge equipment at Scripps College. Later in the semester, these same students will also collect and analyze functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data at the 3-Tesla MRI scanner at Caltech. Their participation in the course will give them real-world experience with two of the most important neuroimaging methods in cognitive neuroscience: EEG/ERP and fMRI.”


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