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November 26, 2004

Clear Pictures of How We Think

We've all had recourse to say: "My head tells me to do one thing, but my heart says do the other." Sometimes we are forced to make a decision but we feel ourselves to be pulled in opposite directions by reason and emotion.

Thanks to an innovation that has transformed the study of the mind, scientists are now able to see precisely what happens in the brain in situations like this. For the first time in history we are getting close to answering the question of whether the heart rules the head.

The progress is due to functional magnetic-resonance imaging, or fMRI.

This technique allows the measurement of the level of oxygen in the blood, and tells scientists which parts of the brain are most active. It can show, for example, the parts of the brain that operate when we fall in love and when we have food cravings. It has even recently revealed the differences in the brains of Democrats and Republicans.

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November 26, 2004 in Tech/Science | Permalink

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