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Medical ''brain physics''

  1. Apr 10, 2007 #1
    What’s the physicists’ role in the brain functions' research?
    Is it only the imaging (PET scans, fMRIs)?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 10, 2007 #2
    scarcely, there is a branch of physics called biophysics. The problems are so diverse as to defy easy description, but some examples are the analysis of 3d structure of proteins which might be the voltage gated channels that underly the action potential or the neurofibrillary tangles that have been implicated in Alzheimers. The study of the special senses, in particular, vision and hearing require keen physical insight, and one of the early pioneers was a man by the name of Ernest Mach. The point is at some level all brain processes are physical in nature and as such often require the insights and expertise of physicists to unravel the precise mechanisms and structures involved.
  4. Apr 10, 2007 #3
    depends on which physics branch you look at...radiation/nuclear would look at imaging. Most others that deal in molecular structures look at growth as stated above but usually not in the brain. There are those that study electric circuits (usually engineers) and apply their knowledge to modelling circuits in the brain such as ion channel and flow.

    Edit: Thats why i listed them in brackets (usually engineers) rather than saying also engineers study these things, cuz they do study EC/E&M/Mathmodelling, but they're title is engineer.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2007
  5. Apr 11, 2007 #4
    I would have to disagree somewhat with above, if "engineers" are PhD's in EE sure, but i would count them in as physicists. In my program of study, for instance we had two EE's one working on cochlear implants so that the deaf may hear, another using sophisticated signal processing techniques to EKG's. Jarvik as in Jarvik heart I cannot recall. Others were ME PhD's.
  6. Apr 11, 2007 #5
    thank u all, i am starting this year my bachelors on physics with medical physics(in england) and i think brain function is a really intersting research area for further studies.
  7. Apr 11, 2007 #6
    You might want to ask your professors how indepth into the psychology they go, because you may only be dealing with radiation medicine/therapy...that is developing imaging techniques to help neurosci/neuropsych researchers study the brain more indepthly.
  8. Apr 11, 2007 #7
    i think above is good advice, you may also want to consider a double major in physics and biology with latter emphasizing neuroscience. That way you will be able to talk the language of biology, but have a much rigorous training than usual in math and physics--at least thats how it is here in the states, bio majors often just take dumbed down versions of math and physics.

    Suppose it also depends greatly on whether you want a trade or are looking to do research for a living, which of course implies going on for a PhD....
  9. Apr 12, 2007 #8


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    Jarvik was the guy that invented the mechanical heart, remember?
  10. Apr 12, 2007 #9
    I do but couldn't recall his training. He married Marilyn Van Savant iirc, supposedly the worlds most intelligent person. Those were heady times at Utah but we also had that embarrassing incident around Cold fusion:redface:
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