Neural Research Methods
Data collection facilitates careful analysis toward theorization. The means by which data collection is facilitated play a very important role in the nature of the data used. Neurophysiologists and neurobiologists tend to use three different methods that involve different technologies. Sometimes these studies will integrate more than one approach in an effort to triangulate data. I describe these three approaches here to provide an understanding of how data is collected within the field of neurobiology.
A popular approach to study neural activity is through studying electrical waves sent across the brain as one performs a particular task. Electrodes are placed on various parts of the head, and they monitor signals suggesting certain neural activity. Such technology is affected by the tool’s capacity to measure multiple neurons and its range covering the area of the brain. Older technology was limited to studying very few neurons and electrodes were most sensitive to activity near where they were placed. So, they could not monitor much activity.
More recently, technology enables researchers to study more neurons and a larger area of the brain. Consequently, it is now possible to have a better understanding of what is happening with various neurons as one performs a task. However, it is still uncertain as to what activity is specifically occurring at cell-level.