Archives for : June2015

Neuroimaging in trauma studies is bad science and worse understanding

DSC00633In his recent book, The Body Keeps the Score (2014), Bessel Van der Kolk writes about the first time he used neuroimaging in his work. He placed eight traumatized subjects in a scanner similar to the fMRI (functional MRI), which records in real time changes in the blood flow in the subject’s brain. With the subject in the scanner, an associate read back an account of the subject’s traumatic experience(s). All subjects experienced flashbacks while in the scanner.

I taped the scans up on the refrigerator in my kitchen, and for the next few months I stared at them every evening. It occurred to me that this was how early astronomers must have felt when they peered through a telescope at a new constellation. (van der Kolk, 2014, p. 42)

fMRI: the basics

Is neural imaging really is equivalent to the Galilean revolution? In order to answer that question, it will be useful to understand how neuroimaging works in practice in the study of psychic trauma.

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