Today, Dr. Dhamala and Bidhan are attempting to take a peek inside the human mind using MRI technology. MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) uses pulses of radio waves and a strong magnetic field to look at very detailed structures within the body. In addition, it does a fantastic job of looking at contrast between tissue. Using a Brains & Behavior Seed Grant to kick off the project, they are specifically interested in deciphering the neural underpinnings of decision-making. So, how does a machine that takes pictures inform a complex construct such as decision-making? Bidhan and Dr. Dhamala put their heads together with B&B faculty and psychology professor Sarah Brosnan, Ph.D., to find the answers.
This interdisciplinary group works on a special type of MRI technique called an fMRI, or functional magnetic resonance imaging machine. fMRI techniques have the capability of measuring real time effects of blood flow in the brain, giving researchers a precise idea about which brain cells are using the most oxygen and glucose in the blood, and therefore the most energy, during a specific task. Georgia State & Georgia Tech have a joint Center for Advanced Brain Imaging (dubbed “CABI”), where Bidhan utilizes this fMRI technology to ask questions regarding social, economic, and perceptual decisions in humans. Using the fMRI, they take pictures as their subjects engage in hypothetical economic games to understand how the brain makes decisions based on notions such as perceived fairness. In addition, Bidhan investigates how decision-making is affected by your senses. For example, one question posed by the research is “how does fuzzy versus clear visual input impact decision-making?” In other words, if you are asked to make a decision based on a picture in front of you, as the task becomes more difficult (e.g., the image is increasingly fuzzy), how does your brain mediate such a decision? Bidhan hopes to answer these questions and more. With four publications in the works, it appears he is finding those answers.
When Bidhan wants to get out of the lab, he enjoys playing soccer and volleyball. He also says the Brains & Behavior program gets him out of the lab. Not only literally for seminars and lectures, but figuratively as well: “B&B provides a great opportunity to interact with scientists across disciplines, gaining insights into different ways of looking at things.” Keep up the good work, Bidhan!
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