Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines are extremely sophisticated. They can detect tumors, see bone fractures, and examine electrical activity in the brain. You can conduct them in all sorts of positions: standing up, lying down, or when dancing a jig. It’s no surprise, then, that MRIs have been used for all sorts of off-the-wall experiments. Here’s some examples of the coolest types of MRI scanning:
- While Playing Jazz
Charles Limb, a hearing specialist at Johns Hopkins and a faulty member of the Peabody Conservatory, wanted to know hope some musicians are able to produce concert-length pieces of music that are entirely improvised, from beginning to end. So, he conducted MRI scans on the jazz pianists and rappers inside an MRI and had them perform. The imaging showed that the improvisers managed to shut off parts of their brains that handled self-monitoring.
- While reading T.S. Eliot
When an MRI scans an actor’s brain, it noticed a particular area of the brain – the infraparietal sulcus – light up. This area is important because it handles spatial memory.
A British researcher who was working on the project, commented: “I think actors’ brains are like musicians’ brains, in that they’ve been trained to learn enormous sections of language – not by rote, but by matters of association.”
- While giving birth
A woman in Germany gave birth in an MRI, giving viewers a rare glimpse into the inner-workings of the birth canal. Doctors could even watch the baby’s head change shape during the process.
- While playing video games
Researchers at the University of Illinois researched educational science by having test subjects play a game in various positions:
“We built in aspects of shifting your attention around to different objects in the display, remembering different pieces of information, using different rules depending upon the context and the changes in the game. There’s also a very complex psychomotor control in which you use a joystick to control a spaceship. We designed a somewhat entertaining task that was complex to learn, but built in various aspects of memory and decision making and control and attention. It was used very productively in studying learning and studying strategies that might be applied to enhance ideas about how we learn and how much and how quickly we learn.” – University of Illinois
- When introducing snakes and spiders
Bringing snakes and spiders in the room can definitely evoke the desired effect – fear.
“We are very grateful to Nachshon for inducing intense fear in the participants of our study,” deadpans Yadin Dudai, one of the lead researchers, in a video explaining the results.