Jessica Wants an MRI

This is an expansion on a comment I left on The Zucchini Patch.

I think they use PET scans for what you want to do. An MRI isn’t capable of telling the difference between a live brain and a dead brain. It can, however, spot a shrunken hippocampus or amygdala or anomalies in the blood vessels.

An fMRI can see more. They can use tagged glucose or neurotransmitters, whatever they want to study. The fMRI shows where the substance concentrates in the brain, where it is used the most. The NIMH has information about this.

It’s all still under investigation, though. The fMRI is not ready to be used to diagnose.

Did you know that in ADHD, the harder the person tries to concentrate, the more the prefrontal cortex shuts down? Oddly enough, motor areas of the brain work harder at the same time. Can’t we just find a way to teach these kids that will fit with that kind of brain response? Running around in circles shouting out calculus problems, perhaps?

Apologies to my friends of the hyperactive persuasion.

Somewhere in this computer I have a letter I wrote to one of the scientists in the movie “What the Bleep Do We Know!?” who works down at Penn. I met him at the preview and asked him a few questions to correct some of my assumptions in writing the “Putting the Genie Back Into the Bottle” article. The study I was interested in was over, unfortunately. (Yes, dogs and cats *do* have Broca’s and Wernickes areas – it’s not just defined by function, it’s a physical location.)

I have an MRI of my head hanging on the wall next the the desk This is your brain on bipolar to remind me that I have a brain – you can see it, the small pea-sized thing in the center of the glob of mush. ;-) Several years ago I made an animation out of the scan through the layers. Where the hell did I put that?

Oh, here. I see that this one is from after I had my sinuses repaired in uhhhhh 1996 or thereabouts. Refresh the page to see the animation. My favorite part is the eye stalks. We must have had crustacean ancestors.

When did they decide that the Rorschacht test and the MMPI diagnose bipolar disorder? Bipolar isn’t a personality disorder, it’s a mood disorder. My last psychologist told me that when they modified the inkblot test, it was not longer useful in diagnosing borderline personality disorder, either. I question the whole thing at this point.

I took one years ago. The psychologist took my money out of pocket twice a week for over a year and wasn’t able to catch the bipolar disorder. When we did the inkblot test, I thought about what I’d been reading in the psychology books and created a mindset before we started. He had seascapes all over the walls so I picked an undersea theme – so that undersea pictures would be the first thing to pop off the paper at me. Dancing crabs, an octopus in a Jester’s cap. That sort of thing. The MMPI and the Thematic Apperception test were similarly transparent. And drawing pictures of my house and my family and myself. It might have been easier if I didn’t read so damn much. I read a lot more then than I do now.

Anyway, that’s what you want, a functional MRI rather than a plain old MRI.

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