How can we prove that certain parts of the brain are involved with certain functions? Is it through showing subjects images and then using neuroimaging to see what parts of the brain light up? I am specifically interested in emotions and memory.

  • There are ways to artificially stimulate certain parts of the brain and observe the reactions. The other way is to observe loss of functions when certain parts of the brain are damaged.
    – Jan
    Dec 27 '18 at 15:17
  • 1
    It can help if you say what do you need to know. Are you thinking about an exact problem that could be related to brain damage? Or are you just curious? It is neurophysiology that deals with such questions. Brain disorders are diagnosed by various neurological tests, such as EEG...
    – Jan
    Dec 27 '18 at 17:13
  • 2
    Welcome to MedicalSciences.SE. I have only just seen this question and even though there is an answer, it is very brief as it can only be based on what you have in your question. There are many different ways you can determine what part of the brain is involved and the Neuroscientists over in Psychology&Neuroscience.SE would be of help on this question. However, you need to narrow the field. You mentioned emotions/memories. Is that your prime area of interest? Either way, please edit your question to reflect what function you are interested in as your question is very broad. Dec 31 '18 at 0:14
  • 2
    @ChrisRogers Ah, thanks for clarifying. When I read the question, I didn't see it as too broad (it's a simple question on the face of it) and thought others might benefit by an answer as well. Dec 31 '18 at 15:45
  • 2
    @anongoodnurse - others will benefit as you say. You have saved a broad question to a degree Dec 31 '18 at 16:32

The most rudimentary way to know which areas of the human brain are involved with which functions are through animal experiments (what happens if a certain part of the brain is destroyed or, more mercifully, stimulated?) and through observation of stroke or brain cancer patients (patients who lose function in part of their brain due to lack of blood/destruction of part of their brain.) It's easy to tell with a CT scan or an MRI where a brain lesion occurs. Over many, many decades of study (more than a century if you include autopsy results before CT scans were available) the loss of a particular function had been associated with a particular region of the brain. Probably the most famous of the early studies was Paul Broca's discovery in 1861 of where in the brain one aspect of speech/language exists.

With advances in brain surgery (particularly awake craniotomies), it's possible to "fine tune" such study. Add PET and fMRI studies, and you have your answer. Note, though, that not every person's brain is exactly the same.

Magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography in emergency assessment of patients with suspected acute stroke: a prospective comparison
Teen Sings During Brain Surgery to Save Her Musical Abilities

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.