PSY510 Southern New Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Discussion

PSY510 Southern New Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Discussion

One contemporary debate within the field of psychology centers on the role of neuroimaging as evidence in the field. Some scholars believe that identifying brain areas and activities involved in different behaviors is the key to unlocking the mysteries of the mind. Others feel that the value of neuroimaging studies is overblown and that this methodology is just another tool in the psychologist’s toolbox. Some people also have ethical concerns about some of the uses of this technology. What do you think? Be sure to draw on the resources from this week (attached articles and below links) to support your positions.

To complete this assignment, review the Discussion Rubric document (attached).

After completing the initial post above, please also respond to the following two students posts regarding the same topic!

student one:

If you have read most of my discussion posts this term, you would see a theme from my job: clinical research. I work as a clinical research coordinator in a hospital and several of my studies have MRI scans required in the study protocol. From the little expose I have, I know MRI scans are not easy and have to be precisely conducted especially in research. For every new research study, our hospital has to prove our machines work efficiently by sending “dummy scans” and we are required to train all MRI technicians on every research study so they know exactly what is required for research. If the MRI scans are slightly different than they should be (due to improper subject positioning or a small movement), the research staff is alerted and asked to bring the subject back in to redo the testing. All of this is to illustrate that MRIs, from my experience, are hard to compare to each other.

The article by Vul, Harris, Winkielman, and Pashler (2009) states that fMRIs used in studies are showing correlation results that are improbable. They also discuss researchers not divulging the methods used for their research entirely. The reason I brought up my experience with MRIs in the first part of the discussion is to illustrate that, even my very minor expose to these scans has already spoken to the article written by Vul, Harris, Winkielman, and Pashler (2009). Researchers, in my experience, understand that the use of these machines are tricky and require a lot of specificity. The response by Nichols and Poline (2009) says as much as well. Researchers understand the need for improving the method section of manuscript writing. Ten years has passed since both of these articles have been published, and I believe my experience with MRIs (mostly due to the amount of training and methodical re-scanning required) is due to the work of these authors and their contemporaries. Because of the discussion surrounding fMRIs and neuroimaging in general, scanning techniques have been honed and perfected.


Nichols, T. E., & Poline, J.-B. (2009). Commentary on Vul et al’s (2009) Puzzlingly high correlations in fMRI studies of emotion, personality, and social cognition. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 4(3), 291–293.

Vul, E., Harris, C., Winkielman, P., & Pashler, H. (2009). Puzzlingly high correlations in fMRI studies of emotion, personality, and social cognition. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 4(3), 274–290.

student two:

Neuroimaging is not science-fiction, nor is it something people would never experience in their time. Technology advancements have made viewing the brain activity possible. Additionally, researchers can see brain activity and manipulate brain functionality by incorporating tests and furthering knowledge of specific areas of the brain correlated to activities performed or reactions of one’s emotional state. Cacioppo, Berntson and Nusbaum shine light on the possibilities of expanding the researcher by stating the use of the fMRI should contain processing of manipulation and activation of the brain (2008). This simply means they suggest studies should relate to a task such as speech and through neuroimaging, view how the brain processes information. It appears their idea is more of structuring the intention of using fMRI’s for theories of psychologists and developing a thorough network of the brain.

In the journal from Vul, Harris, Winkielman and Pashler, they suggest that the high correlation of brain activation and studies of emotion, personality, and social recognition is inaccurate (2009). Their qualm is with the inflated results reported for correlation between brain activity and emotional scales (2009). The researches interpreted results from previous studies that included averages of .60 reliabilities and BOLD test-retest correlations from another study ranging from 0 to .76. Thus, when they reference a study conducted in 2005 from Sander et al, they believe that a .96 correlation is extremely high and inflated for the purpose of their agenda (2009).

Nichols and Poline counter Vul, Harris, Winkielman and Pashler’s journal by stating multiple-testing creates a problem and the researchers should formulate thoughts with this known knowledge (2009). Additionally, they state the reporting of methods and results require improvement but not to the extent of having several authors retract or restate their results (2009). Neuroimaging is still a growing technology that requires additional information to improve. With any field of research, it needs refinement.

In time, neuroimaging can help guide and implement new techniques for helping individuals with specific issues or prevent them altogether. First, researchers must determine a standard means of reporting the results and obtaining the information. There are some ethical considerations with the technology. Such that, it is an invasion of privacy as researchers gain access to near real-time data processing occurring in the brain. Which, is not as horrible as what will people now do with that information. The purpose of the technology should be to map the network of the brain and help individuals and not for personal benefit. Phineas Gage is a personal favorite learning opportunity for psychology. If neuroimaging existed back then, a before and after of Gage’s brain activity might give some fascinating insight to how the brain works. It would be in the interest of helping Gage and not financial gain but others may see this as funding to further research for the organization. I feel this is a good use of technology just still in its infancy.


American Psychological Association. (2017). Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct.Retrieved from

Cacioppo, J. T., Berntson, G. G., & Nusbaum, H. C. (2008). Neuroimaging as a New Tool in the Toolbox of Psychological Science. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 17(2), 62–67.…

Nichols, T. E., & Poline, J.-B. (2009). Commentary on Vul et al’s (2009) “puzzlingly high correlations in fMRI studies of emotion, personality, and social cognition.” Perspectives on Psychological Science, 4(3), 291–293.…

Vul, E., Harris, C., Winkielman, P., & Pashler, H. (2009). Puzzlingly High Correlations in fMRI Studies of Emotion, Personality, and Social Cognition. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 4(3), 274–290.…