I love neuroanatomy. The idea of getting down to the physical workings of the brain and then using that to understand elements of individual psychology…that excites me quite a bit! So of course whenever I spot some research going on at university that covers this topic, I put my name forward!
One such study involved having an fMRI scan done while I perform basic perception tasks. If you don’t know what functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) is: it is a real-time scan of the brain that allows us to see what parts of the brain are ‘lighting up’ in response to various tasks. The scan is done in a large metal tube that you are slid into on a tray thing, much like a normal MRI. For an fMRI your head is secured into place to avoid you moving and blurring the images. You also have ear defenders put on to protect you because as well as the loud clicking you get with a normal MRI, there is also an even louder beeping kind of noise.
After this study I Was lucky enough to be allowed to have my brain put on a cd. The images from the scans that is. These images are normal MRI only, no activation hilighting, but I can still see the whole structure of the brain, view different slices, and even see a “3D render” that makes me look like a giant-eared monkey. And now, so can you! Just download and unzip MRIcron from here, then download and unzip my brain file from here (or here, or here) and open it up in the software. Enjoy poking around my brain!
If you need to brush up on your brain anatomy, I recommend the excellent 3d interactive model on pbs.org.