The History of Brain Scans in Brain Research / Neurology & Psychotherapy

Neurotechnological Brain Scans in

Neurology & Psychotherapy 

Another major break through in brain research happened in 1929. Hans Berger demonstrated the first human electroencephalograph machine (E.E.G.).                         

This was a machine that measured and records the electrical activity of the brain. It also can record this information. Electrodes are placed on specific sites of the scalp. The electrical impulses of the brain are detected and recorded.

The frequency is the number of times a wave passes within a second. A pen is hooked up to an instrument and records on graph paper the small electric currents of the frequency. If a frequency is shown, and it is excessive or deficient, mental performance will suffer. Amplitude and volume are also measured in the E.E.G..

This test is now used as a diagnostic test in psychiatry and neurology. It is a common tool used today in brain research. The E.E.G. is technically not a brain scan. It is a useful way of non-invasively observing signals from the brain. It can show how long the brain takes to process a stimuli or show if a person is asleep or awake.

It is limited in that it cannot tell us what region of the brain is doing what, or the anatomy of the brain (Breggin, 1979). The major role that the E.E.G. has is determining whether or not a person has epilepsy. It is a brain scan to determined the seizure activity.

Sometimes, it is used for the assessment of brain damage or to assess brain death. The test is in real time. This means that the test is sensitive to brain abnormalities only while it is being administered.

Also, those who do have epilepsy will have a normal E.E.G. brain scan. This is an excellent tool to use with other brain scans to get a bigger picture of what is going on in a patients brain (Hopkins Clinical Neurology, 1993).

The CAT (or CT) brain scan was developed in the 1970’s. CAT stands for Computerized Axial Tomography Scan. It combines two dimensional x-ray images to show a 3-dimensional scan image of the body organs which can include the brain. A donut-shaped x-ray machine moves around the subject to take many pictures. This scan can detect some brain damage and show local changes in cerebral blood flow (this measures brain activity).

The CAT scan is considered a low risk procedure. The amount of radiation a person receives is minute. The C.A.T. scan is available at almost every acute care facility in the United States today. It is fast and is preferable over the M.R.I. for acute cases of trauma.

It is best for intracranial bleeding or fractures. This test is more sensitive than the M.R.I. for life threatening identification in the first 72 hours of the injury (Radiological Association of North America, 2005). 

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