The BBC has an unbearably stupid article on MRI. I hope they don't think it's news -- apparently, according to them, fMRI can determine brain activity, and that given controlled tasks, researchers can predict that activity better than the subjects. From examination of activation levels of certain areas of the brain, researchers could tell when people see certain kinds of patterns. Well, duh! MRI has been around for about 15 years, and it's always been this way. If these things were not true, MRI would not be done on humans! It's almost as if they had an article on cars and how they can be used to drive to the supermarket or across the country. If you really want to learn about it, read up at the Wikipedia article. Of course, they had to top it off with some blue-sky projections talking about analysis of areas that are considerably more complex than the visual cortex, which is one of the simplest and easiest to experiment on parts of the brain. Oy.
In today's meeting at work, while talking about MRI and weaknesses of analysis inherent in the technology as it exists today, it was mentioned that some researchers, when looking for motor area responses have their subjects do a battery of tests to get response peaks and areas for each finger and hand. It would be interesting (albeit very nontrivial) to come up with a battery of tests to do the same thing for other types of cognitive function. The idea seems really exciting to me -- I wonder if anyone is working on it.