Techniques used to study the brain in relation to behaviour

Suitable techniques include MRI, fMRI and PET imaging but what is important is that you understand how they are used by psychologists to study the relationship between brain and behaviour (remember the IB accept cognitive processes, such as memory, as a behaviour). This site gives a basic description of the different brain imaging techniques.
PET scans: pet-scans with information from Smith and Jonides (1997) This study ties in well with our work on flashbulb memory as well. Japanese language video clip about this study posted by the researcher (Hamann)
In an ERQ you may wish to talk about (and/or compare) more than one technique, so I have provided some materials in MRI and fMRI too.
MRI More info specifically about MRI scans a clip about how MRI works
Do you remember Maguire’s study? Here is a link to the complete original article by Maguire: maguire.pdf
Maguire powerpoint: maguire pp.pptx
Maguire worksheet: maguire worksheet julia.pdf
Maguire evaluation grid: maguire evaluation.doc
Maguire questions: maguire questions.doc
You may choose to talk about Corkin et al.’s (1997) MRI study on HM, find out more here:


Useful to evaluate studies which use brain imaging; if they don’t control motivation, conclusions may not be valid: also another example of a study using fMRI scans. ScienceDirect – Neuroscience Letters Motivation effects in a dichotic listening task as evident from functional magnetic resonance imaging in human subjects.mht
Examples of studies that have used virtual reality 
A very interesting study as it looks at the cross over between emotion(affect), cognition and biology and uses virtual reality so ideal for IB! Performance on a Virtual Reality Spatial Memory Navigation Task in Depressed Patients — Gould et al_ 164 (3) 516 — Am J Psychiatry.mht

Sense Cam a treatment for amnesia
The use of modern technology to overcome some forms of amnesia: case study of Mrs B, life logging and sense cam:


The choice of techniques used to correlate the brain with behaviour is based on a variety of factors including ….

  • opportunity
  • available technology
  • costs

An awareness of these limitations as well as the strengths of these different techniques is important when evaluating the contribution they have made to understanding behaviour.

Click image to make a copy; activity to differentiate between the use of fMRI, EEG and ERPs