[-empyre-] questions for Lucette

Anna Munster A.Munster at unsw.edu.au
Wed Sep 10 18:48:32 EST 2008

Hi All,
I found the post that Lucette wrote really interesting - even if I  
only half understood it!

I was wondering if, Lucette, you could talk a little more about the  
different uses of ERPs and y neuroimaging processes such as fMRIs etc?  
What I mean is - are there definite clinical situations in which ERPs  
are mainly used as opposed to neuroimaging? Does neuroimaging mainly  
function to locate damage and then ERPs used to continually assess  
that damage, for example? Part of the reason I am interested in this  
is because it's the neuroimaging that always grabs the limelight and  
the imagination because, as you say, these images highlight the 'whizz- 
bang' aspect of technologies. Whereas graphs and voltage measurements  
don't look quite so sexy!!

Part of the reason I'm also interested is the extent to which a range  
of techniques is always used in a clinical situation - not just  
instruments measuring things but neurologists themselves etc tapping  
on people's knee reflexes etc. We forget about all these processes and  
procedures (unless we become part of them due to some damage to  
ourselves or those around us) and I think that both artists and as  
well the media sometimes forget that these aspects of neurology - or  
indeed any clinical assessments and diagnoses - make up a very large  
part of the attempt to get at 'the truth' of a disease, situation or  
damage. When we do take all these different aspects into account we  
start realising how so many parts of the 'brain' manifest in such  
multiply embodied ways and that we and also neuroscience still know  
little about what 'the brain' is...as Paul has pointed out.

On 09/09/2008, at 12:07 PM, Lucette Cysique wrote:
> I think as a young
> neuropsychologist, two thinks struck me. One is that the level of  
> brain atrophy as
> seen on the MRI was sometimes not related with the level of  
> cognitive functioning
> as assessed by neuropsychological testing. This is in fact the case  
> in many
> neurological diseases. The other thing is a clinical appreciation of  
> individuals
> with dementia. The personality/memory loss with advancing dementia  
> that
> accompanies mostly cortical neurodegeneration (such as AD) was  
> contrasting with
> the  patient ability to be socially or emotionally appropriate.

I also think this relates to the above comment you made - which, if I  
understand you correctly indicates that
what 'shows' in some neuroimaging processes as damage, lesion etc  
doesn't necessarily relate to how a person's cognitive abilities  
unfold in the light of this 'damage'. Hence 'the image' is not the  
great arbiter of the truth about the brain - many other factors need  
to be taken into account. I also got this feeling from the work of  
neuro-psychiatrists such as Oliver sacks and Norman Doidge, who  
emphasise the regenerative capacities or neuroplasticity of the brain  
even given severe organic damage. I remember reading about Sack's Lost  
Mariner who had organic damage that completely affected his short term  
memory such that he wasn't able to retain memory for more than a few  
seconds. he consistently had to live every event in his life over and  
over again, seemingly never going anyhere with anything. And yet,  
Sacks also observed that this guy had another kind of sensory/ 
emotional memory operating that actually allowed him to continue to  
function to an extent in the world. he was able to relate to and  
retain some sort of sensory memories of flowers, for example.This made  
perfect sense to me - I think that a kind of neuro-embodied memory is  
absolutely part of the way in which we live in the world
> One thing that I did not discuss is that while in the U.S. I was the  
> manager of a
> study conducted in China about neurocognitive complications of HIV  
> infection. This
> work was important in developing my interest in cross-cultural  
> neuropsychology. I
> think one aspect of cognitive neurosciences and imaging studies that  
> can be easily
> amenable to criticism is the fact that most studies are conducted on  
> young white
> males (working in HIV or with people with substance use disorder for  
> example
> highlights the demographic representation issue in fMRI studies).  
> Although this is
> changing, fundamental questions regarding the universalism of  
> emotion perception
> and cognitive functions are starting to be very challenging. I can  
> develop on this
> later.
Was wondering if you had any more thoughts on the above? Have  
different cultural/racial subjects returned different results in  
clinical studies or hasn't this been investigated in a study yet?

> I think the recent umbrella field of "social neurosciences" is  
> bringing
> scientists together about all the things I mentioned. I hope to be  
> part of this
> keeping the clinical aspect of my research.

Can you point us more in the direction of this field - are there  
actual websites, for example, that gather together the 'social  
neurosciences' or people interested in this area?


Dr.Anna Munster
Senior Lecturer
School of Art History and Theory
College of Fine Arts
P.O. Box 259
NSW 2021
612 9385 0741 (tel)
612 9385 0615(fax)
a.munster at unsw.edu.au

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