The discipline of cognitive neuroscience is to apply scientific methods to investigate the neuro-cognitive mechanism of psychological processing. This approach may shed light on the relationship between brain and mind. Recently, rapid advancement of imaging techniques and its growing availability has transformed the scenario of cognitive neuroscience research. Neuroscientists apply various imaging methods to study the brain across different species, from mice, rats, monkeys to human, and at different scales, from molecular, cellular to systems level. Since 1990s, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has become a dominant tool in neuroimaging due to its non-invasiveness, free of ionizing radiation and relatively wide availability. In the past two decades, functional MRI (fMRI) has emerged as a principal research tool to probe the patterns of brain activations during tasks or in resting state. Diffusion MRI has recently attracted attention because it opens up a window to the mapping of the complex wiring scheme in the brain. By combining these two MRI methods, one can investigate the functional connectivity and structural connectivity, and may gain important insights into the working of the brain as a circuitry. Brain imaging will continue to grow in two major directions. First, fMRI and diffusion MRI techniques will be improved to a point that the image quality can achieve the clinical standard. Second, the imaging data will be combined with genetic and behavioral test data so that clinically relevant biomarkers can be discovered. In conclusion, brain imaging has shown its capability to reveal the workings of the brain and may be potentially useful in brain and mind medicine.
- brain imaging
- magnetic resonance imaging MRI
- diffusion MRI
- functional MRI fMRI
- mental disorders