Psychological Psychology

Brain Systems and Research


Moodle Discussion Question…

Imagine that you are a police detective investigating a murder.

What evidence would you need to identify suspects?

How would you evaluate the potential guilt of each suspect?


  • Look for physical evidence
  • Eyewitness testimony
  • Interview those close to the victim
  • Check alibi – where/when
  • Consider the motive
  • Test the suspect
  • Weigh the evidence

Why animal research?



    • Simpler nervous systems provide good models


    • Unethical to do certain research on humans


  • Know about animals

Animal research:

  • Stereotaxic surgery—precise placement of experimental devices in the brain
  • Electrical stimulation—use electrode to elicit a behavior (eat, drink, squeak, etc.)
  • Electrical recording—within the cell

Animal research:

    • Lesions—remove part of brain or nervous system


    • Gene knockout—remove a specific gene from the mouse’s DNA.


  • Gene replacement—insert pathological genes from human into a mouse.

Research Tools

    • Computerized Axial Tomography
      (CT scan)




Research Tools

Electroencephalogram (EEG)

    • Measure electrical activity in cortex






Research Tools

  • Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)


  • Positive Emission Tomography (PET scan)

Research Tools

  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)




Research Tools

Normal brain Stroke victim

Research Tools

  • Direct brain stimulation
  • Pioneered by neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield

Dr. Penfield’s remarks:

“The patient thinks of himself as having an existence separate from his body.”


“There is no place…where electrical stimulation will cause a patient to believe or to decide.”