Why I love brain imaging.

One of the reasons why I love brain imaging—while imperfect in some ways—is that it allows us to literally see something inside ourselves that we might not ever see otherwise. It astounds me that scholars and practitioners of the physical, biological, and psychological sciences have learned to focus the energies of electromagnetism to gain (in)valuable (in)sight to the inner workings of the human brain.


Scientific advancements have come a long way in about half a century, and in the next half a century, our understanding of the brain’s structural and functional connectivity will grow richer and deeper. Hopefully, we’ll find the answers to questions that have alluded humanity for millennia. But even more, I hope that we encounter mysteries of the brain that we haven’t even thought to question.


Beneath the skin, encased in bone, lies the most sophisticated organic machine that humans have ever known. It monitors and controls our bodily functions. It allows for us to perceive the world in a way that is more than the mere sum of our sensory abilities. Seemingly without much conscious effort on our part, our brains govern our interactions with the world by making sense of the wealth of stimuli that surround us from moment to moment.


Somewhere beneath the skin, encased in bone, lies the most sophisticated organic machine that is the architecture of our behavior, thoughts, and beliefs. The architecture of us. Your happiness and heartaches are built from flashes of electrochemical energy, racing along axons, blazing synapse to synapse, which we attempt to measure and then visualize—often as a brain on fire.


I love brain imaging because it gives me a vision of light and beauty that lies in every one of us that we know is there, but otherwise may not ever see.