Future Advances

New neuroimaging studies can use increasingly sophisticated research designs incorporating levels of cognitive ability (e.g., bright and average subjects), task strategy alternatives (e.g., chunking or not chunking memorized items into categories), easy and hard versions of tasks (i.e., low and high mental effort), and a variety of tasks to probe specific brain areas and systems. The combination of neuroimaging techniques in the same subjects, even simultaneously, also promises to advance research. Structural MRI, for example, now is essentially necessary for exact anatomical localization irrespective of the functional technique used. Functional MRI and MEG results routinely are displayed on structural MRIs. In the future, neurosurgeons and researchers may use virtual brains created from a variety of imaging procedures to explore the re lationships between structure and function as computer models of cognition generate responses to test stimuli. In the near future, human PET studies using different radiolabels and using drugs to manipulate brain state during task conditions will help discover which neurotransmitter systems are related to specific sensory, motor, and cognitive performance. Neuro-imaging studies have already begun to bridge the gap between animal experiments and human studies because animal studies can provide specific hypotheses for human testing. Neuroimaging technology will likely advance our abilities to test hypotheses in ways beyond the scope of our current theories. These abilities will drive new theories of how the brain works normally and how it fails when it is broken.

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